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WACA hopeful of better 1st Test pitch

AAP logoAAP 2/11/2016 Justin Chadwick

WACA curator Matt Page is confident he's put enough life in the wicket to ensure the first Test between South Africa and Australia won't become a snorefest.

Page's batter-friendly wicket came under heavy criticism last summer after New Zealand and Australia fought out a lifeless draw.

In that match, Australia posted 9(dec)-559 in their first innings, before NZ replied with 624 in a contest that broke the spirits of bowlers from both sides.

Australian paceman Mitchell Johnson even announced his Test retirement during the match after returning figures of 1-157 in the first innings.

Test skipper Steve Smith labelled the pitch benign.

The pressure is on Page to ensure a repeat of that situation doesn't occur, and he's confident he's produced the goods.

Page says he has left more grass on the wicket this year, and also adjusted the amount of water he's used on it to ensure for a better pitch.

"We've tinkered with our prep to try to get a harder surface than we would normally see here at this time of the year, just to try to help it go through quicker," Page said.

"I'm actually quite relaxed at the moment.

"There's pressure with every wicket you produce at the WACA.

"There's that reputation of the pace and the bounce and consistently getting it back to what it was in the 70s.

"That's what we try to do with all of our wickets. Sometimes, we get there - sometimes, we don't.

"But I'm pretty confident we'll have a wicket that will have a bit in it for both batters and bowlers."

Perth recorded its coldest September on record this year, and Page admitted the cooler weather had made his job even more challenging.

Page spoke to Smith on Tuesday, and the Australian captain hoped to see a nice "sheen" on the pitch when he walked out for Thursday's opening day.

"I'd like to see it a lot quicker and bouncier than last year - that's for sure," Smith said.

"I thought that played very slow and benign (last year).

"When you look at the WACA wicket, I guess you want to see that sheen and, when it's like that, it generally goes through."

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