Perth, Australia: The WACA ground will feature its traditional quick and bouncy wicket for the second test beginning Friday, an attribute that will please Australian quicks Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc and an expected four-man New Zealand pace attack.
“It’s all about us trying to replicate the olden days and provide a traditional WACA wicket … there will be some pace and bounce for the quick guys, absolutely,” ground curator Matt Page said Wednesday.
“They changed the clay back to what it originally was six or seven years ago. The pace and bounce has returned since then. We’ll see a result.”
Johnson has taken 42 wickets at an average of 20.19 in his six tests at the WACA, including a career-best 8-61 against South Africa in 2008. He and Starc combined for 10 wickets in Australia’s 208-run win over New Zealand in Brisbane in the opening test which ended Monday.
Temperatures are expected to reach as high as 37 degrees Celsius (97 Fahrenheit) during the test.
The WACA has produced a result in each of its past eight tests, with Australia winning five, including a 150-run decision over England in 2013.
New Zealand is waiting on fitness tests on paceman Tim Southee (back), while all-rounder Jimmy Neesham (back) has already been ruled out for the remainder of the series. Southee had a worry-free light training session on Wednesday and is expected to go through a tougher workout Thursday.
New Zealand’s fast bowlers had a forgettable first test. Southee’s back issues didn’t help, and Trent Boult returned figures of 1-127 and 1-61 when Australia declared twice.
“It was certainly a surprise to us that he didn’t bowl the way he normally does,” Johnson said of Boult on Wednesday. “He would have been disappointed. He generally gets the ball right up there nice and full, and swings the ball.”
The visitors could add Neil Wagner or Matt Henry to their pace attack.
Wagner said his side’s pacemen were also capable of intimidation at the Perth venue, where they will seek to level the three-test series.
“Definitely. I think our attack is up there with the best in the world,” Wagner said. “When Tim, Trent and Dougy (Bracewell) and the rest of them all get it right — they’re pretty good bowlers.”
Australia coach Darren Lehmann is looking for improvement from his side, including its new-ball bowling. Tom Latham and Martin Guptill put on opening stands of 56 and 44 in the first test for New Zealand.
“They left well and made us work for it, but we’ve certainly got to get better in that area,” Lehmann said. “They had to play at less than half the balls with the new ball in the first 20 overs, so that’s something we’ll look at … putting some more pressure on.”
Australia is expected to name an unchanged side for the test.
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