I’ve been convinced to start putting my cricinfo work up here as well. So, I am.
The scoreboard has a sort of don’t mess with me attitude. The ducks in Queens Park’s look more sinister than most. And the light towers have a violent look to them.
My first memories of the WACA involved Geoff Lawson’s jaw, or what was left of it after Curtly Ambrose tried to decapitate him. For a few years the pitch changed to a PG rating, and the allure of the WACA almost disappeared. Now some of the brutal mystique has returned. The pitch is once again fast and bouncy. Once you’ve worn a few on the hands and chest, like a scene from a bad disaster film the pitch slowly opens up and lets the bowler aim at massive cracks.
Then there is the heat. Perth is hot. I don’t want to get into specifics, but I’m washing undergarments over here more than David Warner hits boundaries. Peter Siddle looked like he was too tired to celebrate a wicket on day one. Siddle and I are from Melbourne, so maybe us handling heat means little, but in Perth even the Indians have been complaining about the heat. I’m counting that as hot.
There is something slightly wrong about the stands too. Any ground with grass hills on both sides should be lovely, but the WACA still feels ominous. The Inverarity is the sort of stand that would be used for a prison football match. The inside seems to have been made to survive a riot. The TV and Radio press are at the top of the Lillee/Marsh stand, with only one disabled toilet – well I hope that is all there is, otherwise someone is playing one hell of a joke on me.
The written press have no room of their own due to their numbers. Cricket grounds in Australia are always surprised at the amount of press India and England have. So at the WACA, almost all of them are dumped out behind the grass bank in a square-of-the-wicket hospitality tent. It’s not bad, unless you’re in the front row in which the heat of the sun and your laptop bring you to a slow boil. They don’t even have their own toilet over there. The punters and the press near the Shepherd gate share a concrete box, which strangely has no urinals and is backed up ably by portaloos, with no humanity at all on a hot Perth day.
The WACA doesn’t even make it easy to commentate. The ABC are commentating standing up, just so they can see the entire ground. They have five cameras stationed directly in front of them. It looks more like a comedy skit about the different way TV and Radio is treated by sport.
The stewards here are scary. They don’t guard, they aggressively patrol waiting for patron or press to roam slightly out of line. If you walk up the wrong hallway, an elderly woman with a name badge will tackle you. Discussions about staircases here are brutal. And if you’re standing where it says no standing, even on a non-match day, you will be moved by any means necessary.
Even the WACA press conference room (which is actually a weight’s room) leaks from a suspicious looking pipe that says waste.
Whether you’re facing Curtly Ambrose, waiting for the one toilet, getting food in the Inverarity dungeon or commentating on your tippy toes, the WACA has a real tough Test feel about it.
It’s kind of harsh and nice at the same time.