Australia's victory in first cricket Test marred by dramas over 'unacceptable' pitch

Simon O'Donnell has questioned the surface that was used against Pakistan at Perth Stadium.

Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon and Mitch Marsh in the first cricket Test.
Australia thrashed Pakistan in the first cricket Test amid dramas around the misbehaving pitch. Image: Getty

Questions are being asked about the pitch that was used for the first cricket Test between Australia and Pakistan after a number of Aussie players copped nasty blows. Australia rolled Pakistan for just 89 on Sunday to win by 360 runs, as the pitch started playing a number of tricks.

Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and Mitch Marsh were all struck on the body, despite the fact that none of the Pakistan bowlers were particularly quick. The sight of Marsh being hit in the helmet by a delivery that was only 125km/h proved particularly grating for former Test player Simon O'Donnell.

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“I’m interested to see what the ICC says,” O’Donnell said of the pitch on SEN radio on Monday morning. “I think that was too worn and too unpredictable for a day four pitch. When you say television cameras honing in on certain areas, I thought, ‘gee whiz, day four and we’ve got that’? I’m not even sure if it was equipped for day five.”

The curators at Perth Stadium copped criticism last year for producing a deck that didn't provide enough assistance for the bowlers. They promised a more lively pitch this year, but may have gone too far in the other direction.

There were multiple instances of inconsistent bounce, including a Nathan Lyon delivery that virtually rolled along the pitch to bowl Aamir Jamal. “Balls keeping low, I say that’s just mother nature having its way," O'Donnell said.

"When balls are dangerous, that’s my problem. I have no problem with a ball lifting out of the norm but not lifting to the extent of one or two feet. When you see a world-class batsman in Mitch Marsh get hit twice on the helmet by a guy bowling 123 kilometres an hour… I don’t think that’s acceptable.”

Pat Cummins happy for lively pitches to be norm

But Aussie captain Pat Cummins didn't have a problem with the surface at all and reckons more pitches should play like that. "We play on a lot of wickets where it's really flat and you fill your boots as a batter," Cummins said in his post-match press conference.

"The second innings here for both teams was more difficult than first. But as you saw, there was plenty of runs there if you got out there. It's probably a bit more (activity) than you ideally want on a day four wicket, but there was a lot of cricket before that to set up the game."

Mitch Marsh, pictured here during the first cricket Test between Australia and Pakistan.
Mitch Marsh was struck on the helmet in the first cricket Test between Australia and Pakistan. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Aussie bowler Mitchell Starc said the pitch was starting to play like the old WACA one did. "It probably played a bit more like the India Test match we played here (in 2018) in terms of the cracks," Starc told

"Obviously a little bit less grass than last year. It played quicker, a bit more bounce … and that little bit less grass cover allowed it to deteriorate as the Test went on. We're over in the west, shades of the WACA – I certainly miss the WACA, the breeze we get there – but it's starting to show some character here with the same stuff."

Pakistan coach Mohammad Hafeez said: "The amount of deterioration we witnessed, I wasn't expecting that much because on the fourth day the deterioration in the pitch was really high. We believe it was a good toss to win for Australia. They managed to put runs on the board and then obviously batting in the fourth innings and on the fourth and fifth day is going to be a real challenge and we couldn't do that, to be honest."

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