The countdown is now on in earnest for Test Cricket’s debut at Perth’s Optus Stadium with the second test of the Border Gavaskar Trophy set to take place at the venue from December 14th. Since it’s opening in early 2018, the multi sport venue has proven to be as state of the art and fan friendly as it is imposing to opposition teams.
Exciting as the Burswood venue has proven to be, what the WACA lacks in trinkets it more than makes up for in history and folklore. Opened in 1893 and a Test Match venue since 1970, it has been an intimidating venue for visiting teams to these shores and a favourite for Australian teams and fans. As other venues became more alike in their blandness, the WACA has retained a character that has lent itself to attackingly played Test Matches.
One of the Old Girl’s most cherished characteristics is that of the pitch. Mindful of this, the Perth Stadium have been meticulous in trying to replicate these characteristics in the drop-in pitches that will be used in the Burswood venue. WACA curators created pitches using the same trays that will be used at the new ground. A ‘trial’ match, replicating Test Match conditions, was played and the nature of the pitch was recorded using many different measures. From captain’s reports, similar to those used after First Class matches asking for players’ perceptions of the pitch, Hawkeye and Nuclear Bulk Density Gauges, no stone was left unturned to test the pitch. They will continue this work until all are happy that the WACA pitch is successfully replicated in these drop-pitches.
If they are successful in their efforts, many will quickly move on from their sadness at the demise of Perth’s first Test Match venue. Despite this, the WACA will live long in the memory of Australian Cricket Fans, through its long list of Test Match highlights. Let’s take a look at some of the more memorable.
2. GILLY’S WHIRLWIND TON
The 2006/7 Ashes Series was one of redemption for many of the members of Australia’s golden generation of cricketers after surrendering the urn 18 months earlier. The WACA Test saw the zenith of Australia’s summer of retribution and the Ashes regained, in no small part to a devastating innings from Adam Gilchrist.
In no way to demean the wicket-keeper batsman’s efforts, but the scene was perfectly set for his especially brutal innings that will live long in the memories of all who saw it. After a duck in the first innings he was eager to make amends when he came to the crease in the second innings with the Aussies 5/365 after big innings from Hayden, Ponting, Hussey and Clarke.
Even after racing to his 50 from just 40 deliveries, his fastest ever Test half-century, there was still no hint of the carnage he was about to inflict on the tired and sorry tourists. Despite the best efforts of Monty Panesar, Sajid Mahmood, Matthew Hoggard, Steve Harmison, Gilly sent statisticians hurrying for their record books as he sent the ball flying to all corners of the WACA.
His next next nine deliveries read 6,6,4,6,1,6,1,4,4 in the scorebook seeing him race to 89 from just 49 balls and talk turned to whether he would be able to score Test Cricket’s fastest ever century. For David Gower, who was commentating on the match, it proved an opportunity to produce some self depreciating gold as he reminisced on the day Viv Richards had set the long standing record. “I was there,” he told those listening. “I was captain of England at the time – that’s a loose term.”
Having moved to 97 off 54, it meant Gilly required three runs off one ball if he was to pass the master blaster’s record. Hoggard played spoiler however with a delivery that was so wide it must have nearly seen the umpire order the quick to rebowl it. A diving Andrew Flintoff prevented Gilchrist from equalling the record off the next delivery but not from posting the second fastest, which he did on delivery 57.
One of the most devastating batting performances ever seen, we implore you to watch the highlight package below and join us tomorrow when we unveil moment number one!