Cricket has always been an integral part of Australia’s culture.
After the Australians produced an emphatic and comprehensive 208-run win in Brisbane, we now look to the second Test beginning at the WACA in Perth on Friday.
Ahh don’t you just love the Perth Test every summer?
As a Victorian, the uniqueness and enjoyment of being home in time for most of the day’s play and watching until the evening is fantastic. We will get a similar taste of this with the third and first ever day-night Test in Adelaide, following on from Perth.
The New Zealanders haven’t historically played a lot of Test cricket recently in Perth, not as much as other venues like Brisbane or Adelaide anyway.
In the lead-up to this Test here is a brief look at some of the past encounters between the sides at the ground. Interestingly, New Zealand have not played a Test against Australia at the venue since 2001 – when current Australian captain Steve Smith was just a 12-year-old boy.
Man of the match: Daniel Vettori
It’s hard to believe this is the most recent encounter between the sides at the WACA Ground. The Aussies, in fact, might even count themselves lucky to have saved this game.
The visiting Kiwis posted 534 in their first innings – an amount they could barely salvage from two digs at the Gabba last week. Big hundreds from Lou Vincent, Stephen Fleming and Nathan Astle ensured such a tone was set, in what was a star-studded batting line-up more or less.
After the Australian bowlers toiled hard in the sun they managed 375 in their first innings response, an innings famously marked with the dismissal of one Shane Warne for 99, one of the dangerous Vettori’s six wickets for the innings.
Just 256 arrived from New Zealand bats in their second innings as the home side pace attack took charge, and while a target of 440 was never going to be easy, the Australians managed to finish at 7-381, with some fighting knocks from both Waugh brothers, Mark and Steve, and a reasonably successful cricketer named Adam Gilchrist.
Result: Australia won by an innings and 70 runs
Man of the match: Steve Waugh
There was a different result four years prior, however, as a somewhat inexperienced Australian team catapulted to a comfortable innings victory in the second Test of the series.
Mark Taylor’s side skittled the New Zealanders on the first day for just over 200, with Craig McMillan’s big hitting and another 50 from Chris Cairns the only real resistance offered. New South Welshman Simon Cook would come in to replace Glenn McGrath for this match, and held his own by claiming seven wickets in total. It would, however, be his first of just two Test caps.
The home side romped away to 461 in reply, where a young Ricky Ponting batting at number seven made 16. Half-centuries to both Waugh brothers here, and to Ian Healy and Paul Reiffell down the order, as they did not need to bat again. The Black Caps folded over for just 174 in their second innings. Five wickets to debutant Cook arrived in this innings.
Man of the match: Andrew Jones
In 1993, a similar Australian side took on New Zealand to that in 1997. On this occasion, though, Allan Border was still leading the Australian side, as his team eventually set New Zealand a tricky fourth innings target of 303.
They would finish at 4-166 as time got the better of the result. Mark Taylor and Ian Healy were the main run-getters for Australia, while scores of 143 and 45 earned Kiwi Andrew Jones man of the match honours. Jones was an underrated middle-order batsman who boasted an average of over 44 from 39 Test matches.
Man of the match: Mark Greatbatch
This one-off Test in the 1989-90 home season for Australia ended in a draw despite the Australians being in a strong position throughout the entire match. They would make 521 in the first innings to gain the ascendency, and only further troubled New Zealand by dismissing them for a a mere 231 to follow.
The Black Caps would bat again, and while saving the game appeared unlikely they were able to salvage an incredible draw finishing seven wickets down at the conclusion of Day 5.
New Zealand batsman Mark Greatbatch was the only one to show much fight – his monumental innings of 146 at a strike rate of just 30 majorly helped his side stave off Australia. Highly regarded Kiwi commentator and current contributor in the Channel Nine box Ian Smith mightn’t remember this Test too fondly, scoring just 11 runs from his two digs.
Result: New Zealand won by six wickets
Man of the match: Richard Hadlee
Further supporting the reasonable success of the Black Caps in Perth, came this win in 1985. This was in fact the most recent series win the Kiwis boast over Australia. And it was led thanks largely to one man. Sir Richard Hadlee, who needs no introduction.
Hadlee claimed 11 wickets in a super dominant performance in this game, helping his side bundle Australia out for just 203 and 259. This was, mind you, a batting line-up boasting names of the ilk of Border, David Boon and David Hookes. A small target of just 164 was all the Aussies could set for the travelling Kiwis, and they got it with six wickets to spare.
There you have it, a little insight going back to the most recent contests between Australia and New Zealand at the WACA ground. It is the very place we will all cast our attention to from Friday.
This is a significant Test match. Aussie fans and Perth cricket lovers more particularly will feel the excitement again, as they didn’t get to host a Test against the Indians last summer.
It will also be one of the last Tests we get to witness at this historic ground, with the development of the large stadium in Burswood likely to take over Test match cricket in Perth in the short-term future.