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5 greatest Ashes moments at the WACA

1st Test - Australia v South Africa: Day 1
The WACA ground in Perth is hosting its last Ashes Test in the 2017-18 Ashes
Himanshu Agrawal

With the newly-constructed Perth Stadium in the capital city of the state of Western Australia all set to take over from the WACA as the city's premier cricket ground, it is worth revisiting some of the finest Ashes moments that took place at the stadium.

Cricket Australia would be shifting the big-ticket encounters against England, South Africa and India to the new ground โ€“ in fact, it had allotted the third Ashes Test of 2017-18 to the Perth Stadium before it was confirmed that the venue would not be ready in time โ€“ as it is set to host England in an ODI in January.

Here are some of the greatest Ashes moments from the WACA:

#1 England's only Test win at Perth

During the time when Test matches were six days long, the second match of the 1978 Ashes saw England win their only Test at the WACA so far. The host captain Graham Yallop inserted England in the hope of torturing the visiting batsmen early on a pitch renowned for pace and bounce even in those days.

But David Gower got 102 and Geoffrey Boycott hit 77 in a total of 309 which was restricted due to Rodney Hogg's 5/65. In reply, Australia folded up for 190, Peter Toohey the only player putting up a fight with a patient 81*.

With a healthy lead in the bank, England managed to only put up 208 in the second innings as almost the entire top seven wasted starts, succumbing to Rodney Hogg's 5/57. Set 328 to win, Australia found it difficult to negotiate the pace-spin pair of John Lever and Geoff Miller, eventually being dismissed for 161 with Graeme Wood contributing 64 of those. England won by 166 runs and Hogg had to settle for the Man of the Match award as consolation.

#2 Dennis Lillee sports an aluminium bat

Dennis Lillee came out to bat with an aluminium bat against England at the WACA in 1979
Dennis Lillee came out to bat with an aluminium bat against England at the WACA in 1979

The first Test of the 1979 Ashes will not be remembered for Australia winning by 138 runs and Kim Hughes being dismissed for 99 in the first innings. Rather, it might go down as the game that featured two of Ian Botham's greatest bowling spells - the effort went down the drain in the end - but a match haul of 11/ 176 was only enough to earn him a Man of the Match award.

But more importantly, the match will be etched in fans' minds for the great Dennis Lillee's antics while coming out to bat on the second day. Instead of carrying a regular willow, he brought out an aluminium bat much to the agony of the English captain Mike Brearley, with the two getting involved in a serious argument on the field.

Believed to be the creation of Graham Monaghan, a friend and business partner of Lillee, there came a thud sound when the ball hit the bat - Lillee had even used it days back against West Indies - and he later confessed in his autobiography that such usage was solely meant for advertisement purposes.

#3 Steve Waugh "left not out on 99 by brother Mark" in 1995

ENG ASHES TOUR 95
Steve Waugh remained stuck on 99* as a result of a mix-up with his brother Mark

It was the final Test of the 1995 Ashes with hosts Australia 2-1 ahead after the first four games. England needed to win in order to level the series while a draw would have been enough for Australia. Mark Taylor opted to bat first and opener Michael Slater showed the way with a fluent 124 alongside Mark Waugh's fine 88. The Australian total featured another very notable contribution in the form of Mark's twin Steve Waugh's 99*.

But the agony of remaining stranded just one short of a century involved a tale of its own. Steve entered at number five when the scoreboard read 238/3 but lost his brother Mark, Greg Blewett, Ian Healy and Shane Warne. He added 58 with number nine Jo Angel, who, like Glenn McGrath to follow, was run out.

The last man Craig McDermott had to not only ensure that he helped build a good total for his team but also that Steve Waugh crossed triple figures. McDermott, who was injured, made us of a runner in Mark Waugh, but Steve's fate would be such that as a result of a funny mix-up with Mark, McDermott would be run out with Steve stranded on 99, only the second man to suffer this fate at that time!

#4 Adam Gilchrist's blazing 57-ball 100 in 2006

Third Test - Australia v England: Day Three
Adam Gilchrist blasted the fastest Ashes hundred at the WACA in 2006

Australia were 2-0 up going into the third Test at the WACA and their wicket-keeper batsman Adam Gilchrist had bagged two ducks when he came out to bat in the second innings of the third game. Andrew Flintoff had caused Gilchrist enough trouble by bowling around the wicket in the 2005 Ashes, so the sight of seeing his tormentor ready to bowl from the same angle had Gilchrist extremely nervous, especially after his first innings duck.

Gilchrist arrived at 365/5 with Australia 29 ahead in the first innings, and at drinks on the final day, was batting on 32 off 25. But then came a thumbs-up from the Australian captain Ricky Ponting from the dressing room to signal that the Gilchrist and Michael Clarke, his partner, could continue batting until stumps.

However, Gilchrist assumed the signal was meant for him to carry on batting rapidly, considering he was already going at a strike rate of over 100. Then came the bang! Monty Panesar was smashed for four sixes and Gilchrist flew his way to the then second-fastest Test hundred and the fastest Ashes hundred, off 57 balls.

#5 The arrival of Ben Stokes

Australia v England - Third Test: Day 5
Ben Stokes, in only his second Test, hit a brilliant 120

For the second time in three Ashes series in Australia, the teams arrived at the WACA in Perth with Australia 2-0 up and England playing catch-up. In just the previous Test of the 2013-14 series, England fielded a debutant in pace-bowling all-rounder Ben Stokes, who endured an average debut in Adelaide with little to show with both bat and ball.

But in Perth, with England set a massive 504 to win, the visiting team lost their captain Alastair Cook to the first ball of the innings. Stokes arrived with the side four down and not many runs on the board; he first added 99 with Ian Bell and 76 with Matt Prior. The score had reached 336 when Stokes finally departed for 120.

In a very confident knock which included 18 fours and a six, Stokes announced his arrival on a track famous for its pace and bounce. That innings remained England's only century of the series.

Edited by Arvind Sriram

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