Skipper Michael Clarke yesterday warned the Perth Test against England will not be won by raw pace alone, with bowlers needing to be smart in the forecast searing heat as Australia close in on the Ashes. A win for the home side in the match starting on Friday would give Australia an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-Test series after their pacemen, led by left-armer Mitchell Johnson, blitzed the tourists in Brisbane and Adelaide.
Clarke, who will be playing his 100th Test on the WACA’s famously fast pitch, said he could feel “a great sense of anticipation around the country” about winning the Ashes, but said it was far from a foregone conclusion. “This is going to be a tough Test match,” he said in a column for News Limited tabloids.
“History says we have a fabulous record here and we have certainly taken a lot of confidence out of winning the first two Tests. But history won’t mean a thing when the third Test starts on Friday. It’s about us creating our own history. “And it won’t be simply a matter of bombing away with our fast
bowlers.” Clarke delayed naming his team to see how bowling linchpin Ryan Harris pulls up after training with a sore knee.
Fellow quicks Doug Bollinger and Nathan Coulter-Nile and all-rounder James Faulkner are on standby. “I’m going to wait until the toss and see how everybody pulls up after training and it gives us another opportunity to have a look at the wicket,” the captain told reporters, adding that if he wins the toss he will likely bat first.
While Perth, where England have only won one Test, will have more pace and bounce than Adelaide, Clarke said in his column that batsmen could prosper on the WACA track. “Starting your innings in Perth can be harder than most other places because of the extra pace and bounce, but once you get in it can be a great place to bat because the surface is so even and the pace and bounce so consistent.”
“Likewise, fast bowlers need to be smart. It’s one thing thinking you’re going to terrorise batsmen because the ball is flying around, and quite another getting them out. “Life can be uncomfortable at times, that’s Test cricket, but most wickets in Perth are taken in the slips with batsmen driving at full deliveries.”
Adding to the mix in Perth will be temperatures that are expected to reach up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) over the weekend, a factor that is expected to see coach Darren Lehmann stick with spinner Nathan Lyon instead of going into the game with a four-pronged pace attack. Clarke said the weather would pose challenges.
“They can be long days in the field so you have to find ways of staying sharp and alert,” he said. “This is where all the hard physical work we do preparing for series comes fully into focus. “That physical fitness also brings with it a mental fitness which helps you concentrate for long periods whether batting or in the field.”
Despite Australia’s emphatic victories in the first two Tests, Clarke has been keen to keep his side firmly grounded, with the 3-0 Ashes defeat on English soil earlier this year still fresh in his mind. But he is quietly confident.
“Now that we have grabbed the momentum in this series we want to run with it, and there is no better place to do that than Perth,” he said. “If you take the initiative in Perth it can be a very hard place for the other side to drag it back. Things can happen quickly here.”