Pakistan have suffered in Australia. They lost a Test series 3-0 for the fourth consecutive time in that country. They have not won a Test in Australia in the last 22 years, losing 12 consecutive Tests since 1995. In 52 years of touring Australia, they have won only four out of 34 Tests.
Following the poor performance, former Australia skipper and commentator Ian Chappell has blasted Cricket Australia and suggested it should not invite Pakistan in future. Chappell told the Express Tribune newspaper: “Somebody’s got to give them a kick up the bum. Cricket Australia have got to start saying ‘listen, if things don’t improve, we will stop with the invites.”
The former skipper was cautious on Australia’s recovery after losing the home series 1-2 to South Africa when he said, “Australia have made some improvements. We will find out in India as that will be the big test.”
Chappell’s comment, from a numbers point of view, has merit. However, the argument seems to ignore the recent struggles Australia have had away from home comfort. The current trend in world cricket is one of home domination.
Australia’s performances away from home in the last couple of years tell a tale.
Consider the numbers for Australia in England. They have not won a series against the old enemy in their den for 16 years. In the four series they played in 2005, 2009, 2013 and 2015, Australia lost 10 and won four Tests. In every series since 2005, they have been undone by swing, classical and reverse, of the England bowlers.
Classic examples are the 2015 Ashes Tests in Edgbaston and Trent Bridge. In overcast conditions, with pitches having a green cover and a bit of moisture, James Anderson and Stuart Broad displayed magnificent skills. Anderson’s 6/39 overwhelmed Australia in Edgbaston while in Trent Bridge, Broad provided an exhibition in swing bowling to pick 8/15 and decimate Australia for 60.
With Australia not having won a series for 16 years, should England stop inviting their Ashes adversary because they cannot play in swinging and seaming conditions?
Australia’s Asian nightmare
Australia embark on a four-Test series to India in February. Australia have endured nightmares in India. If one has to look at Australia’s performance in the last 10 years in India, it is a sorry tale. Since 2004, when they won the series in India after 35 years, Australia have played 10 Tests in India, losing eight. They have lost their last seven Tests, which includes the 4-0 whitewash in 2013. In 47 years, they have won just two Test series in India!
If one expands their record in Asia in the last six years, they have lost nine Tests on the trot. The 2-0 scoreline against Pakistan in the UAE and the 3-0 whitewash by Sri Lanka exposed Australia’s woes against spin.
Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Rangana Herath, Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar all exposed the technical fragility of the Australia batsmen against spin. With Australia losing their last nine Tests in Asia, should the Asian teams stop inviting Australia?
Home truth of modern cricket
India, in the 1990s, used to be dubbed “Tigers at home, lambs abroad”. In the modern era, this holds true for most teams. Dominate at home, suffer abroad is the new mantra.
If one has to look at the away records of most teams in the last 10 years, they have lost more. Australia, India, Pakistan and England have all suffered. The only team to buck the trend is South Africa, who have a win-loss ratio of 2.375, the best by any team, greater than even the dominating Australia team of the last decade and the West Indies of the 80s.
Every team has struggled abroad in the last decade. Pakistan and India won a series in New Zealand in 2009 and 2010 respectively while England won in India in 2012, after 28 years. Australia had success in South Africa while Sri Lanka managed a win against England in 2014. Barring these successes, teams have failed to win away on a consistent basis.
If one extends the assessment to performances of teams in the 80s and 90s, then teams performed well overseas. In the 80s, West Indies, South Africa, Pakistan and Australia all had a win-loss ratio of over one in overseas conditions. In the 90s and into this century, only Australia and Pakistan had a superior equation.
Chappell is right in criticising Pakistan, but the same argument also holds good for Australia.