~~Perth pitch lost its bounce and pace~~

Published: Saturday, August 12, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Perth's WACA cricket pitch, once regarded as the fastest in Australia, will not be at its fearsome best for Australia's Ashes series with England in December, the ground curator said.

The WACA pitch on Australia's west coast has been known as the slickest of Australia's five regular Test pitches, but has been criticised in recent seasons for losing its trademark bounce and pace.

Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) curator Cameron Sutherland said Australian captain Ricky Ponting had spoken to him and his colleagues last February about the likely state of pitches for this year's Ashes Test series.

"(The Australians) want to know what each characteristic is so they can pick a squad and arrive at the ground and it (the pitch) is basically what they expect it to be," Sutherland told The Daily Telegraph. on Saturday.

Fast bowling great Dennis Lillee criticised the WACA pitch last season for not having its renowned liveliness.

Sutherland said the matter was being addressed, but the pitch would not be at its best for the Ashes series.

"The clay percentage has dropped probably 20 percent from its heyday," he said.

"That has been replaced with sand and makes for a wicket more like the (Australian) eastern states.

"It is still going to be a pretty good wicket in terms of pace and bounce, but it is still not going to be like it was 20 years ago when Lillee and (Jeff) Thomson were steaming in."

Gabba curator Kevin Mitchell said his Brisbane pitch, which will be used for the first Test on November 23, was vying with Perth as being the fastest in Australia.

"We are up there for pace for sure," Mitchell told the newspaper.

"We have a pacy deck, but bounce is hard to compare."

Mitchell said there had been no requests from Ponting for an unfair pitch advantage against England.

"We are lucky in Australia to have the support of Cricket Australia and all the teams," Mitchell said.

"We are so lucky we don't have the pressures other countries do."

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