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Disaster Down Under

By Thaleel Bhai
January 31 2005

A blow-by-blow look back at one of the most disastrous tours by any cricket team in recent years. (Disclaimer: Take with a few [thousand] grains of salt)

  • Pakistan reach Australia and begin by playing the Western Australia Second XI. After the failures of their last tour opener where they were bowled out for 168 courtesy of a 50 year old Dennis Lillee and his 18 year old son Adam, they aim to top it - or perhaps lower the bar even further, depending on your point of view. They succeed with a laughable collapse - after a 99 run lead in the first innings, they fall apart (with a lineup of 9 batsmen and a keeper) to lose the match, being bowled out for 83 in their second stint at the crease. The perfect way to get things going.
  • In the finest tradition of any sadists, Pakistan are propped up briefly - and knocked back down. Pakistan lose to the WA Second XI with so much spare time that they play a 40 over game which the Pakistanis thankfully win, preventing Inzamam from preponing the flight back. And to show their superb one-day skills, they trounce a Chairman's XI a few days later - the opposition consisting of the likes of 42 year old Tony Dodemaide, and a Geoff Lawson not far from his 50th birthday. But it's progress to many who are thrilled that their team's finally winning...
  • ... only to lose again. If the Western Australia Second XI was tough, how about the first XI? Pakistan concede a first innings deficit of 142 with Mike Hussey and Marcus North chewing up and spitting out the bulk of the attack, and the bowlers promptly roll the tourists over for 174 (but let's be positive - still more than 83). 34 quick runs later and it's a 10 wicket thrashing for the Pakistanis.
  • But there are at least a few bright points - right? Like Langer being rolled over for 4 in the first innings of that previous game. He makes up for it by caning the Pakistanis for 191 in an innings and 97 in another, as we begin the first test at Perth.
  • Shoaib Akhtar, seeing the carnage about to unfold in the second innings, decides to cool his heels. After a cookie falls on his toe during drinks, Akhtar claims an injury and after bending his back for 6.3 overs, lets the other bowlers cop a hammering. The statisticians who were keeping count of how many no-balls Shoaib could rack up in the series are deeply disappointed.
  • And let's not forget about one of his rival pacemen - a selfish git who doesn't want Langer hogging the limelight. McGrath tries to steal the spotlight for himself, and rips out the top 7 when Pakistan start chasing a target of 564, finally ending with 8/24. Still not enough to get the man of the match award though, and McGrath is left cursing as Langer takes the cheque. Pakistan though? Beaten by 491 runs - placing them fourth on the list of the biggest test defeats ever. Well, at least the tourists made their way into some record books.
  • And now, it's time for the captain to lead by example. Seeing the way things are going, Inzamam pulls out of the next test, citing a back injury (not the best way to show you've got some spine, Inzy). Sadly, his team mates fail to see their captain's brilliant idea of avoiding more defeats, and refusing to follow suit, they head off to Melbourne for another thrashing.
  • It must be a miracle, claim the spectators as Pakistan rack up a total of 318/6 at stumps on the first day. They promptly return to usual form from thereon, collapsing to 341, before conceding another first innings lead (and ever so generously giving Jason Gillespie his second test fifty).
  • Of course, everyone's conveniently forgotten that Warnie's traditional pre-match "prediction", this time a promise of 9 wickets on day one, had joined most of his others in the bin as Youhana slaughters him for a superb ton. Undeterred, our hero greets the press at stumps by promising to take those 9 in the next innings.
  • Meanwhile, the drunken gang of Craddock, Coward and company rant on about the Ashes in a few months, and with Gillespie having two half centuries in his last four tests, claim Dizzy's a better all rounder than Andrew Flintoff and anyone else those Poms can find, while predicting a 7-0 whitewash in the series. The usual bit of delusion, then.
  • And of course, if it's Pakistan playing a test in Australia and batting, you know a collapse is just around the corner. As the mayhem in Melbourne goes on, Pakistan meekly capitulate for 163. Australia are set 126 for a win, the sort of low target they traditionally have struggled chasing - but Pakistan's incapable of taking more than a single wicket as Australia go 2-0. It's a bonus. Most people thought they'd be incapable of taking even one.
  • Changes aplenty in both camps as we go to the third test in Sydney. Of particular note is the recall given to Shahid Afridi, as BobWoolmer.com is flooded by several thousand emails by angry fans complaining that the one-day series doesn't start for a while.
  • And to the disappointment of many, Brett Lee still isn't given a game at Sydney. He's distraught and rightfully so, as in front of his home crowd, he won't get to show the additions he's made to his vocabulary since learning "M**********R!!!!!!" from Merv Hughes.
  • Meanwhile, after a century from Salman Butt in the first innings, Ricky Ponting piles on his first significant total as captain - 207 in Australia's first innings. The press promptly go to town, claiming Punter as the greatest captain in cricketing history since dear old Tugga, AB, and company. He's a true legend and a man who'll go down as a cricketing great, they claim while taking break from verbally flaying the tourists.
  • At the same time, Shoaib Akhtar proves that timing's not only a key component of good batting - but also a major factor in finishing with good bowling figures. Right before Gilchrist cuts loose and flogs a hundred, Shoaib strains a finger muscle signing one autograph too many on the boundary, and leaves the field. Poor Kaneria and Afridi are left to be chewed up and spat out by the ensuing Gilly onslaught as Rob Craddock hunts through his thesaurus for synonyms to 'annihilate', 'slaughter' and 'our wonderfully successful Aussie team that leaves no record unbroken'.
  • David Shepherd makes six umpiring errors in an hour, breaking his own record and only leaving good old Bucky ahead of him. By the usual laws of things evening out, all decisions go against Pakistan.
  • Australia finish bowling Pakistan out and knock off the winning runs to make it their third consecutive whitewash. Adam Gilchrist doesn't show up at the press conference a little while later, leaving press to conclude that after one "WAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!" too many during the tests, he's strained his vocal chords and is down with laryngitis.
  • Of course, now they've ended the test with a day to spare, all Australia turns to Cape Town as the Poms go down to South Africa. Cue the collective bursts of laughter from the Aussies towards any Englishman who thinks they stand a chance in the Ashes.

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