The Western Australia Cricket Association Ground or simply the WACA no longer hosts Tests, but stories and memories. An Arena famous for its bouncy track will be consigned to history as a Test venue as India-Australia face-off in the second match of the ongoing series is to be held at the newly-built Optus stadium in Burswood suburb.
When WACA was accorded Test status in 1970, the cricket association wanted it to stand out as a matter of territorial prestige. When the curator hatched the idea of building the fastest and bounciest track in the world, he used the soil from the banks of Harvey-Waroona, some 120kms from Perth.
It is indeed a park of nostalgia which is charming in its simplicity. WACA fought hard to keep its identity but eventually succumbed to the growing corporatization of cricket world.
The new venue Optus also could be mean, fast and brutish. The 2 ODIs played there gives the same indication with 36 wickets off an average score of 205 runs.
WACA has always been a batsman’s graveyard and fast bowler’s paradise. It brings back the memories when Curtly Ambrose took seven wickets for one run! The scorching heat, the Fremantle Doctor, the flies that continuously buzz in your ears add to the mystique nature if the ground.
But the brand new Optus Stadium offers not only shade from the sun’s snare but also a hike in the capacity which can accommodate 60,000 against 23,000 squeezed in WACA.
The Optus is shining brightly and symbolically shading over the WACA but WACA is irreplaceable with its myths and stories which lights it up for several generations.