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.
1. AMBROSE AT HIS MENACING BEST
The 1992/93 Frank Worrall Trophy Series represented Australia’s best chance of wresting the trophy from the West Indies grasp in almost 20 years. After falling an agonising one run short of securing the series in Adelaide, the Allan Border led team headed to Perth with high hopes.
At 2/85, Border would have been relatively happy with his decision to bat after winning the toss. What followed was 32 balls of precision and venom from Curtly Ambrose that is the stuff cricket nightmares are made of.
Unable to deal with the fast bowling greats pace and movement, the Australian batsmen were powerless to stop the carnage. The Australians who entered the match full of confidence were taken down one by one, by one of the most impressive spells ever seen on these shores.
Once it was all said and done, Ambrose remarkable spell garnered him seven wickets for the cost of only one run! The Australian’s building comfortably only overs before at 2/85, had been dismissed for 119. Shell-shocked, the Australian’s watched the West Indies finish the day 1/135 all but ending the contest. When they fell to defeat by an Innings and 25 runs less than two days later, it was no surprise their destroyer, Ambrose, was named man of the match.
The Perth Stadium, from a spectator comfort stand point, is a massive step up from the old WACA ground and will provide a World Class venue for the fans of Western Australia to watch Test Matches from. It is never wise to stand in the way of progress but it will be tinged with sadness when the new venue receives the baton from the WACA. WACA Memories