What does Australia’s Test series win over Pakistan actually mean?

Does it amount to a hill of beans? A fell of discarded iPhone covers? A mountain of offcuts of plasterboard?

Just before Christmas, we said that Pakistan are, essentially, a swing bowling side, and therefore pretty much always do terribly Down Under. There has been more to the series than that – but it still explains a lot.

The tourists’ batting collapses have drawn attention, but it is their inability to take wickets that has left them… well, it’s left them fielding mostly.

Taken as a whole, the batting has ticked over. They made a decent stab at chasing 490 in the first Test, kicked off the second Test with 443 and Younus Khan has just become the first player to score a hundred in all 11 nations that have hosted Tests after making 175 not out in the third.

In contrast, their best bowling performance was when they dismissed Australia for 429 in the first innings of the series. You wouldn’t think that an especially lofty point from which to fall, but Pakistan appear to have been positioned over a bone dry Mariana Trench. They’ve just conceded 241 in 32 bleak overs of declaration-awaiting.

“Today was more about the ball not swinging,” said David Warner after making a hundred before lunch on the first day of this Test. It was a glorious innings, defined by the batsman’s utter conviction that he should seize the moment, but that assessment also casts a bit of light on other contributions, such as Matt Renshaw’s 184 and Peter Handscomb’s 110.

These two certainly have the air of being batsmen who could thrive in Test cricket, but we’ve been here before. Just over a year ago, Joe Burns made 129 against New Zealand and 128 against the Windies. Australia arrived in Sri Lanka and he promptly made 34 runs in four innings. He then made one run in two innings against South Africa.

Ensuring you cash in is a vital part of batting in Australia – and every bit as worthy as other qualities in matches where such a quality comes to the fore. Elsewhere it doesn’t necessarily influence the batsman’s returns to quite the same extent.

These kinds of VERY BIG NUMBERS can sometimes conceal more than they reveal. Adam Voges averaged 95.50 when he arrived in Sri Lanka. He averaged 14.80 in the three Tests against them and the two against South Africa.

So where does that leave us? Well, if nothing else, we know that Australia are better than Pakistan in Australia. It’s hard to draw any firm conclusions beyond that – and after 400-and-odd words already, why would we even want to try and do so?

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12 Appeals

  1. “Younus Khan has just become the first player to score a hundred in all 11 nations that have hosted Tests”

    I know what people are saying with this stat, but the pedant in me can’t shake the fact that the West Indies isn’t a nation. If you are going on actual nations, Lara and Chanderpaul must have scored hundreds in loads more.

    Agree with the point on Renshaw/Burns. No real surprise that the best Cook has looked all winter was in the 2nd Test against Bangladesh when Duckett was belting it everywhere – feels sort of similar with Warner. It’s like when he gets going, the opposition completely forget about the guy at the other end.

  2. You may have written 400-odd words but you can rest assured that before too long, Ged Ladd will have written well in excess of 700 and have you under severe pressure for your next attempt. You gave it your best shot but these are tough conditions in which to operate.

  3. Why are South Africa so weird?

    They are not only the only side to win in Australia for six years, they are the only side not to get turned into soft pate there. And they’ve done it twice.

    It’s not due to being better than everyone else as results elsewhere will attest. So what is it?

  4. I think India would also get thumped in Australia. The word flat in the context of cricket wickets actually constitutes two different sides of the spectrum. Alas flat wickets of Australia are nothing like flat pitches in India.

    Australia have by far the fastest wickets in the world. Their batsmen love those conditions, if the ball comes nicely onto the bat they hit through the line with hard hands trusting the pace & bounce, knowing there’ll be minimal sideways movement off the pitch or through the air.

    Their bowlers are as suited as their batsmen to these conditions. They produce big, broad, strong fast bowlers, Starc, Johnson etc who naturally bowl short of a length. You think of Australia as bowling hostile deliveries, into the chest, into the chin.

    It serves them so well hence why they’re dominant at home. The same technique on slower pitches sees the ball sit up nicely for opposing batsmen, and the Aussie batters often look foolish playing hard & early at a swinging ball.

    So if I say Australian pitches are one end of the spectrum. Only Australians specialise on them. India are the other end. England are in the middle & give something to every type of player (spinners or seamers). It makes for the best cricket, would you agree?

    • Rohan is spot on. Australia also happens to be the country bleating the loudest about ‘doctored wickets’ – a sure sign of having something to hide.
      As an Australian it annoys me because I am denied an actual contest and instead every summer I have to watch our national team bullying brown people and Englishmen who don’t know how to play in the unique conditions our climate throws at them.
      As a side note I greatly enjoyed watching Rabada and Wahab Riaz returning fire this summer. That spell in Brisbane as Warner approached his century was as nasty as anything I have seen and he had Warner beaten with bounce as much as anything else. For the couple of shots before his ton Davey boy had actually closed his eyes and ducked away from the ball at the moment it connected with the bat.
      If you want a model of how to prepare pitches for ‘even’ conditions South Africa must be doing something as they are the only nation that seems to consistently turn out players capable of performing well in all conditions.

      • …or perhaps many South African players, from a very early age, feel that they are constantly in a state of preparation for plying their skills in one or more of those other cricketing nations, rather than at home.

  5. Virat Kohli certainly talks the talk (the badgers should take note)

    “The main goal is to identify players who can play in different positions and can work around the batsmen who’ve been featuring in the ODI set up for a long time, at the same time giving them ample time to prepare for those big events and not rush them into any kinds of plans that they can’t execute”

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/india/content/story/1076184.html

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