Third Test – Day 1: Typical Wild Wild West day, well almost

If you believe in improper comparisons between sport and television, you could be excused for thinking that reaction of over 16,000 at the WACA for the arrival of night watchman Nathan Lyon was the equivalent of the what 2 blokes playing a piano hands free were advertising (cures for erectile dysfunction). Instead it would be far easier and appropriate to make this comparison to shouting “SURPRISE” to the person whom the surprise party isn’t for. Yes there were even a few boos, probably in the direction of the home dressing shed, when the bulk of the crowd realised that the South Australian off spinner had arrived at the crease having seemingly performed his duty with the ball with some distinction.

For those who can think back to my last report from the cricket, I had nothing except a few off field activities to report. After landing at Perth Airport, and comparing the 20 degree temperatures with the 38 at Tullamarine the previous afternoon, plus looking at the leaden skies it would have been easy to think NOT AGAIN. Fortuantely, despite 9 futile attempts at constructing beer snakes, a number of evictions, fans whinging about alcohol restrictions and the lack of beach balls (first one produced at 4PM) and mexican waves (hard with so many members) there was plenty on the field to keep the crowd and myself amused. TO my way of thinking it’s honours even following the final hour of play, although Australia would be happier given their fresh bowling lineup did the job that those whom they replaced could not.

This would be my first (and perhaps last) taste of international cricket in the Western Australian capital, so I was certainly hoping the 4 hour plane ride was worth making from Melbourne Airport at 7 AM EDST. After dithering around at the airport and missing a connecting bus that would have got me to the city and a walkto the ground, it was a $30 cab fare direct to the WACA, mindful that several fans in the past have missed substantial portions of play in the early stages of tests at the ground thanks to the long queues and delays at entry points.

Many have also told tales of the inadequacies of the elite outdoor sporting facilities in Perth, the finally completed Perth Arena an exception for the Wildcats in the NBL and the Hopman Cup tennis amongst others, and after sampling Subiaco in 2010, it’s safe to say that I’m not sure which venue has more problems. Half the ground is taken up by WACA members, with the Lillee-Marsh stand looking rather small considering the media are also located in that stand. I’ve read that developments to the ground would see the demolition of the Inverarity Stand, which since the ground was shortened following the full time move of AFL to Subiaco has looked out of place, probably won’t be missed. Perhaps they could build toilets that don’t have a portable look about them. Next door, the Prindiville Stand where I was located for the day was easily comparable to the three tier stand at Subiaco, an eyesore that just doesn’t seem to fit.

For all the issues, the retention of the hills at least gives the kids some space they don’t get at other venues, and the atmosphere was as good as Brisbane served up over the years. I was also impressed that the crowd at least were able to direct themselves to their seats without relying on annoying ushers who do nothing but play their part in the fun police at other venues. It did help that the Australian bowling was largely dominant, save for another Faf du Plessis dam wall restoration and handy support from the bowlers. You could barely tell the difference between Mitch Starc’s wicket taking deliveries, proving the McGrath/Mark Waugh theory of “top of off” continues to put computer planning to shame. To my shock Mitchell Johnson controlled his line, length and pace to continually worry the top order. His adopted home fans, many of whom have not seen him don the Warrior gold and black or Scorcher orange, providing the type of support afforded by Bay 13 to Victorian players much less bowlers. Watson and Hastings played their parts well, and despite having a 6 sail 2 rows over my head Lyon recovered to take his three wickets which I’m certain is his job in the bowling rotation.

As for the visitors, the resiliance from their batsmen coming in after number 7 buoyed their attack, Warner never looking assured in his time at the crease and the important wickets of Cowan and Watson dilligently removed. I’m sure many fans tomorrow will fill the ground almost beyond capacity once Ricky Thomas Ponting arrives at the fall of the next wicket. The crowd support he received today from our section surely will spur him to one last century, or at least to come full circle and make 96 like he did when he faced a young Chaminda Vaas and Murali at the start of the journey. As for me, it’s back home tonight, and back on the job on Sunday, a job that maybe Mr Ponting can make worthwhile with perhaps his farewell knock less than 24 hours earlier.

About Mick Jeffrey

32 Year Old, Bulldogs Member and tragic. Reserve Grade coach after over 225 combined senior/reserves appearances for Brothers AFC in AFL Capricornia. 11 time Marathon finisher, one time Ultra Marathon finisher and Comrades Marathon competitor 2017.

Comments

  1. Mick,
    when I asked you to report on Day 1, I didn’t think you’d board the first flight to Perth! Send the invoice to Mr Harms. Great first hand account, particularly for someone who has never been to the WACA

  2. Great work Mick, hope to make the trip myself one-day!

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