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WACA: A stadium filled with memories

Western Australia Cricket Association Ground.
Western Australia Cricket Association Ground.
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Srisreshtan

India and Australia are heading to Perth to play its second Test, commencing on the 14th of December. The venue for the contest is the newly-built Perth Stadium (commercially known as Optus Stadium). While the Perth stadium is ready to host its maiden international Test match, the Western Australia Cricket Association Ground (known as WACA) would no longer be hosting an international match.

WACA was one of the few venues which had produced tonnes of memories for cricket fans. The stadium was always been known for its excessive ‘pace and bounce.' Moreover, it was also considered to be the fastest track in the world. Bowlers from all over the world would dream to bowl at this stadium. All the batsmen who set their foot on this wicket were continuously asked questions about their technique and mental strength.

Unfortunately, the stadium closed down in December 2017, for it was not generating enough revenue (the stadium had a crowd capacity of only 22000).

It was, however, important to remember that, there were a few classic Test matches played at this venue. This article encapsulates some of the wonderful moments at this venue, ranging from gritty knocks to marauding spells and record run chases.


#1 South Africa seals a mammoth run chase

It was celebration time for South Africans as AB de Villiers and JP Duminy took the team home in a record run chase.

It was the first Test of a high voltage series clash between Australia and South Africa in 2008. Both the teams were ready to battle it out and gain their ascendancy. Australia had imposed South Africa, a steep target of 414. Any other team would have looked to grind it out and settle for a draw. But South Africa had other ideas.

Graeme Smith, the then captain, laid a solid foundation for the team with a century (108), despite having some discomfort with his elbow. He, and Hashim Amla (53), put on 153 for the second wicket. AB de Villiers soon joined the party and crafted a magnificent century. He, along with JP Duminy (50*), took the team home and the South Africans had managed to chase down the second-highest successful run chase in Tests.

Batting for more than a hundred overs, the South African's 'Never say Never Die' attitude had helped them achieve the mere impossible. This run chase had indeed given a riveting start to the series.

#2 Matthew Hayden’s gargantuan innings against Zimbabwe

Matthew Hayden of Australia leaves the field after scoring a world record 380 runs in Perth.
Matthew Hayden of Australia leaves the field after scoring a world record 380 runs in Perth.

In the early 2000s, the Australian team was at the peak of their prowess. Led by an astute captain Steve Waugh, they had continuously triumphed against all the teams. Their supreme dominance had created a lot of ripples in the minds of the opposition.

It was at that point, Zimbabwe went to tour Australia. Zimbabwe won the toss and put Australia into bat in the first Test. What followed later was truly a marauding assault from Matthew Hayden.

In a 622-minute vigil, he hammered the toothless Zimbabwe attack to all corners of the ground and scored an astounding 380 runs at a very impressive strike of 86.95. His innings was studded 38 fours and 11 maximums. Surpassing Brian Lara’s 375, this innings was the highest individual Test score at that point of time.

Personally, for Hayden, this knock ensured that he was at the peak of his career and helped the Australian team continue its dream run.

#3 Glenn McGrath's venomous spell against Pakistan

Glenn McGrath posing with the match ball along with the Man of the Match Justin Langer
Glenn McGrath posing with the match ball along with the Man of the Match Justin Langer

After hammering the Zimbabwe team in summer of 2003 at their own backyard, the Aussies took on Pakistan in the following summer.

Pakistan were a set a daunting target of 564 runs in the first Test. What transpired later was an incredible spell from Australia’s go-to fast bowler, Glenn McGrath. The combination of an irrepressible McGrath and a bouncy WACA wicket proved too lethal for Pakistan.

McGrath bowled 16 continuous overs picking up eight wickets for 24 runs. The Pakistani batsmen had no clue against McGrath’s pace and bounce and were eventually bundled out for just 72.

This spell from McGrath had definitely erased his patchy record at this venue. At 34, in the year 2004, he had announced to the cricketing World of why he is still best in the business.

#4 Sachin Tendulkar’s magnificent century at just 18

Sachin Tendulkar scored an incredible hundred in Perth at just 18.
Sachin Tendulkar scored an incredible hundred in Perth at just 18.

Going back to the 20th century in the year 1992, Sachin Tendulkar, aged just 18, had announced his arrival in grand style by crafting a brilliant hundred.

On a track where most of the deliveries were whizzing past his nose, Tendulkar expertly faced the four-pronged Aussie pace attack by punching and driving with ease and cutting and pulling with finesse. His 114 in Perth was truly a defining moment in his career.

Though India lost the Test by a huge margin of 300 runs, Tendulkar defied the odds and showed everyone what it takes to be at the highest level.

So, WACA truly stood to the testimony of producing some of the greatest contests between bat and ball. But now after its exit, it is a great chance for the newly built 'Perth stadium' to produce some exciting cricket.

Edited by Vineet Aiyer
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