‘Great for Test cricket’: Fiery deck tipped for second Test
Justin Langer wants the fire and brimstone characteristics that made the WACA pitch famous carried through to new Perth Test venue Optus Stadium as the Border-Gavaskar Trophy goes on the line in the west.
Australia's Test squad arrived in Perth on Tuesday night with an emphasis on freshening up before the second of back-to-back Tests starting Friday against an Indian side that appears more at ease in Australian conditions than previous touring parties.
Captain Tim Paine has been declared a certain starter while Langer hinted Aaron Finch would retain his place at the top of the order despite a double failure in his first Test on home soil.
After conquering the hosts on an Adelaide deck that offered plenty for everyone, Virat Kohli's men must now negotiate what looms as the type of surface that has brought down even the most powerful of Indian teams.
Australian curators are fiercely independent when it comes to preparing pitches but it's likely Langer, one of West Australian cricket's favourite sons, will like what he sees when he sets eyes on the Optus Stadium strip.
The two matches played at the ground have both been dominated by the bowlers, especially the quicks, who have claimed 43 of the 54 wickets.
WA's young pace ace Jhye Richardson claimed eight wickets on the first day of a Shield match against NSW. Only one century was scored in that game.
Players have also noted similar characteristics to the WACA and suspect there could be variable bounce on offer later in the game if the cracks widen in the heat. The mercury is expected to hit 38 on Friday and will stay in the 30s across the first four days.
India can retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with victory in Perth.
"I'm really fascinated and can't wait to see what the Optus wicket brings," Langer said. "There's been one four-day game in its history there … certainly some pace and bounce. We've seen some pace and bounce in it during the one-dayers and T20 game, fast outfield.
"Hopefully that's what it is traditionally at the WACA, that's what we've talked about for a long time, pace and bounce. If we can get that, it'd be a great thing for Test cricket."
Pace-friendly conditions would also ask more questions of the Indian batsman, who have traditionally not handled the extra bounce in Australia, than they were presented in Adelaide.
Australia have trimmed their squad down 13 with Victoria paceman Chris Tremain released. Peter Siddle is the spare quick but is unlikely to be used despite Mitchell Starc's erratic performance.
With the short turnaround between matches, Australia is likely to train less this week after a sapping first Test.
"On the one hand the youth helps us because they'll have the physical energy, it's mentally very taxing playing Test cricket," Langer said. "It's something we're aware of, we'll work it out over the next few days, training will probably look a lot different at this time of the year than perhaps we've seen in the past. We'll freshen the guys up and get ready for Friday."
Paine was hit on his troublesome right index finger while batting in the second innings but will play through any discomfort.
"Painey is the toughest pretty boy I've ever met in my life," Langer said. "Even if it was snapped in about four places he'd still be right. He's absolutely fine. He's obviously had issues with it before but he is 100 per cent ready to go."
The major selection issue will be over the batting but it appears the Australians will resist tinkering with a top six that performed moderately.
That would be good news for Finch, who would get another chance to prove his wares as a Test opener in Australia.
"Is there debate about it? Not really," Langer said. "We've been in an unprecedented period in Australian cricket in the last six to nine months which is not that easy to do but in a perfect world we'd have the same team.
"There used to be the old saying "it's harder to get out of the team than it is to get into the team".
"That's the perfect scenario because it means the guys are doing the job and there's the depth in the competition pushing hard to get into the team. At the moment we're working towards that."
Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald