There is Beach Cricket, French Cricket, Village Cricket, Test Cricket and there is Perth Cricket.
At the end of the Third Ashes Test, both teams, their advisers and fans seem in total shock at the turn-around in events. A side which lost the Second Test by an innings and 71 runs (a clattering), won this one by 267 runs (a clattering).
A few hours on from their opportunity for revenge on the Barmy Army, Australian fans are still choosing rather to take the p**s out of their own selectors and coach, as if like a thousand chimps typing Act I of Hamlet they had fluked victory.
The truth must be that Ponting, Chappell (G) and Hilditch would have been furious at the surfaces they found at Brisbane and Adelaide where most likely unseasonable weather as much as curator intransigence produced the wrong kind of mixture of mud and grass.
Big, lightly pressed bats, honed muscles and fitness training that for the first time in the history of the game produces batsmen with the stamina to concentrate and perform over long stretches at the wicket mean that international batsmen can bully their way to big scores on flat slow tracks making pace attacks look toothless and encouraging critics to identify a world shortage in good fast bowlers.
If Australia didn’t realise it before the series began, by Adelaide they will have known for sure that they couldn’t out-bully these opponents on a feather bed.
So, at Perth over the last few days, on a different kind of wicket, the allegedly toothless bowlers on both sides have taken 40 wickets for 887 runs, an average of just 22.175 runs a victim.
Australia won because their bowlers took 20 wickets for 310 while England’s bowlers surrendered 577 runs in taking their 20 wickets, a performance usually good enough to win most recent Tests.
Could it be that experts bemoaning the dearth of ‘class’ fast bowlers in the world have been looking at the wrong end of the wicket? Perhaps the real dearth in cricket today is batsmen who can play Perth Cricket.
The top four batsmen on both sides scored a total of 309 in the match at an average of 19.3 runs. The top six batsmen on both sides scored a total of 614 at an average of 25.5 runs.
On the surfaces that most Tests are played, movement in the air at 82 – 84 mph is the most effective way of building pressure and taking wickets, if atmospheric conditions allow it.
What was great to see at Perth was a keeper having to take deliveries in front of his face or above his head. Such wickets call for the best in batsmanship and produce exhilarating cricket. Would Test match grounds fill up if we had four day Tests and Perth style wickets?
The curators at Melbourne and Sydney know where their duty lies, both for Australia and for cricket. It is now a two match series, a Christmas and New Year extravaganza.