England are without a win at Perth’s Waca Ground since 1978, but there are reasons for hope ahead of the final Ashes Test at the infamous venue.
The Waca is no longer guaranteed to produce a fearsome surface
Once widely considered to be the fastest wicket in the world, a playground for pace bowlers and a gauntlet for batsmen, the Waca does not always live up to its legend these days.
“The bounce can be built up too much,” England seamer James Anderson wrote in the Telegraph this week.
“It is not as excessive as people believe. Bowling here all depends on whether it swings. If it doesn’t swing it can be an unbelievable place to bat.”
Anderson’s diagnosis is not unique. Even Australia’s coach and selector Darren Lehmann conceded “it has been a little bit slower in the past few years”. Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen, meanwhile, says the Waca is no longer the fastest wicket in the world, adding: “It’s an absolute road.”
The slowing of the surface means the Waca is now far from being Australia’s favourite stomping ground
In fact, Australia have lost in Perth as many times as they have in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane put together in the last 10 years.
They have been defeated four times in nine Tests at the Waca during the last decade, having not lost a single contest from 10 Tests in the decade prior.
The Waca has become a boon for batsmen
In the last nine Test matches, 11,154 runs have been scored at the Waca. That’s more than have been scored at the Gabba, the Adelaide Oval, the Sydney Cricket Ground and the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the same amount of time.
Three of the last four opponents at the ground have notched up more than 500 runs in a single innings, with the only exception being England during their last Ashes tour in 2013.
Five scores over 500 have been registered at the Waca in the last decade – only Adelaide has had as many.