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Howard defends Australian pitches


Pat Howard admits the WACA wicket was too flat but Cricket Australia’s performance boss is adamant there is no national pitch problem.

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Howard has already debriefed WACA management following the drawn second Test, in which all manner of run-scoring records were broken.

“They expected it to be a little bit hotter than it was and then unfortunately it didn’t break up as much as they thought it was going to,” Howard told AAP.

“We’ll all deal with that.”

Steve Smith and Darren Lehmann both admitted publicly they were disappointed with the wicket.

Former paceman Ryan Harris noted the pitches for the first two trans-Tasman Tests were “ridiculously flat”.

Even New Zealand’s softly-spoken coach Mike Hesson referenced “back-to-back Tests on some pretty hard surfaces” when describing Trent Boult’s back woes.

Plenty of others have arced up, Harris suggesting docile decks could have played a part in Mitchell Johnson’s retirement.

“I’m not going to buy into the idea there’s a significant issue here,” Howard said.

“Brisbane was a good Test, it got a result.

“Perth was obviously a flat pitch and I’ve spoken with the WACA.

“Perth traditionally has been very, very good and the WACA wicket preparation has been excellent all the other years.”

Tim Southee is the only bowler in New Zealand’s current squad to be playing his third Test series in Australia.

“They’re getting flatter and flatter but it’s to be expected,” Southee said of Australian pitches.

“It can be like that anywhere though. You get flat wickets in England, New Zealand and the subcontinent.

“You just have to get on with it … if you get the ball in the right areas on any wicket you can be a handful.”

Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were understandably sore after last week’s clash in Perth, having bowled 37 and 32 overs respectively in New Zealand’s mammoth first dig.

It is the most they’ve ever bowled in a Test innings.

Howard rejected the notion the pace aces were being put at undue risk.

“This is not new,” he said.

“Mike (Hesson) is probably right in terms of the conditions being difficult.

“It’s a tough country to bowl in. I don’t think there’s been a significant change.

“If you go back to the South African series in 2012 … there were lots and lots of overs bowled.”

Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus bowled more than 117 overs between them in a dramatic draw during that series.

Siddle and Hilfenhaus both missed the series decider, however they’d only had three days to recover.

Australia have a nine-day buffer between the second and third Tests against New Zealand.

Pitches were also a hot topic last summer, when Smith lamented how hard it was to take 20 wickets in drawn Tests at the MCG and SCG.


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