Perth - The groundsman in charge of the pitch for the crucial third Ashes Test at the WACA says the wicket is close to regaining its status as the fastest in world cricket.
The Perth pitch was once famed for lightning pace and bounce, making it a firm favourite with fast bowlers, but in recent years the wicket has lacked anything like its old venom.
Ground curator Cam Sutherland said on Tuesday he expected a lively wicket with a good covering of grass for the third Test, which starts on Thursday, though he admitted to ongoing frustrations in his bid to get the pitch back to its historical best.
England take a 1-0 lead to Perth in the five-match series, and a win at the WACA would mean the tourists retain the Ashes.
Sutherland said there had been steady improvement since the wicket block was re-laid three years ago and he expected the WACA Ground to regain its quick reputation in the next few years.
"Each year, the wicket block as it settles and compacts and gets harder, it is getting better. We think we are on the right track," he said.
"The (Sheffield) Shield wickets have been pretty lively and pretty quick, we've been trying to get the Test wickets there and for one or two reasons haven't been able to quite get there."
Sutherland said if the pitch performs as he expects in the Test, it will be a major step towards the WACA regaining its reputation.
"It is not for the want of trying, but we're in a better place with how we are going with the ground with the wicket redevelopment and it is starting to settle down nicely," he said.
"Hopefully in the next three or four years we'll keep improving it to where it is really good."
"This is the last piece of the puzzle for me, getting a Test wicket that reflects where we have come from."
Sutherland said he expected the third Test wicket to be a good cricket wicket offering something for both batsmen and bowlers.