Sent to the cleaners
There is nothing more mortifying than being heavily crushed by the opponents in every match of the same Test series. In Pakistan’s case, mercifully, this harrowing experience had seldom been a regular feature. But it has happened six times to the men in green caps, and the previous five occasions, prior to the latest humiliation against South Africa had all come against Australia.
In all, there have been 49 whitewashes in series of three or more Tests in the history of cricket — the first-ever instance taking place way back in 1886 when the Australians were blanked 3-0 on the Ashes tour of England when uncovered pitches were the order of the day.
However, as the years went by, Australia gradually emerged as the dominant force among the Test-playing nations to have inflicted most whitewashes on their hapless rivals (20 instances) and suffered the least (just thrice). England are second with 13 winning clean sweeps against seven series losses.
Pakistan, remarkably, have the next best number of ‘winning’ whitewashes — five — which is two better than those attained by the West Indies, Sri Lanka and South Africa who all have done it three times, while New Zealand — for so long the perennial whipping boys of Test cricket until Bangladesh and Zimbabwe took their mantle — have, thus far, yet to enjoy the sweet experience of winning every Test of a series.
India, surprisingly enough, are way behind the others with mere two such triumphs. They are also the biggest sufferers than any of the other sides with no less than eight defeats, followed by England and the West Indies with seven apiece, New Zealand and Pakistan six each, South Africa five and Sri Lanka four. The likes of minnows Zimbabwe and Bangladesh experienced it only once and twice, respectively which is quite understandable since they rarely get three Tests in a series.
Here we look back at the whitewashes Pakistan suffered against Australia and try to fathom out what actually led to those unwanted results.
An ill-conceived affair — 1972-73
The 1972-73 tour of Australia was described by Wisden as an ill-conceived affair because cricket administrators Down Under prepared the itinerary at a short notice and forced Pakistan to play back-to-back Tests in successive weeks and that too in three different states after the tourists had spent the previous five weeks of the trip playing second-rate outfits.
Australia not only capitalised on Pakistan’s inadequate preparations but a huge slice of luck from umpire Norman Townsend, standing in his only Test, to win the series opener at the scenic Adelaide Oval. The new-ball pairing of Dennis Lillee and Bob Massie were a handful in the first innings when eight-ball overs were operational in Australia and New Zealand.
To this day, the Pakistani players are adamant that Ian Chappell, the Australian captain, had nicked a catch to wicket-keeper Wasim Bari off paceman Asif Masood on his score of five but Townsend reacted otherwise and Chappell reached his highest Test score of 196. Off-spinner Ashley Mallett also produced his best-ever figures (8-59) as Pakistan capitulated in the second innings to lose by an innings and 114 runs.
The second Test in Melbourne saw Pakistan in control until they lost the plot in the final innings as Australia won by 92 runs. At stumps on day two, that outcome was unthinkable when Pakistan collected 292-1 in reply to the 441 made by the hosts. Eventually they earned a lead of 133 when captain Intikhab Alam declared at 574-8 on the third day after Sunday’s rest day. But everything then went haywire as Pakistan lost the plot along with the series.
Just like at the MCG, Pakistan had the upper hand in the final game in Sydney until Australia unearthed a new hero in Max Walker, a medium-fast bowler who always delivered the ball off the wrong foot, as Pakistan made a hash of a manageable chase for 159 as they imploded for 106. It was during this match that a tide of unrest within the touring squad was evident with the announcement during the Test that Saeed Ahmed, a former national skipper, and opener Mohammad Ilyas won’t be travelling to New Zealand and were being sent home for disciplinary reasons. (Later it transpired that Saeed was unhappy at the elevation of Majid Khan to the captaincy for the subsequent home series against England. Saeed never played for the country again).
No contest — 1999-00
It took another 27 years before Pakistan failed the big test again in an age when issues like match-fixing had tarnished cricket’s gentleman image. There was much upheaval before the team proceeded to Australia both on political front and in the PCB setup. Wasim Akram was reinstated as the leader following his suspension after the World Cup when he was accused of being involved in alleged match-fixing.
Steve Waugh’s side eased to a 10-wicket win after Pakistan had staged a comeback on day three in Brisbane in a game that also marked the Test debut of Adam Gilchrist who was destined to deny Pakistan a golden opportunity of levelling the rubber at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart.
After things had evened up in the first innings, a sublime Inzamam-ul-Haq century propelled Pakistan to a position of strength. And when Australia lost their fifth wicket at 126 in pursuit of 369, the game was as good as over. But Justin Langer and Gilchrist changed the complexion of the game in a record partnership of 238 after umpire Peter Parker refused to raise his finger when Langer edged Wasim behind the stumps with the home side still far from their mission. Wasim was livid at that decision in the first hour of the last day.
On the bouncy Perth track, the final Test was no contest as Waugh’s men won by an innings and 20 runs in three days. Ricky Ponting’s run of three straight ducks ended with 197 in the best-ever partnership for any wicket against Pakistan when he and Langer added 327.
Meek surrender — 2002-03
Following the 9/11 terror attack on the US and the repercussions in Pakistan and its proximity to Afghanistan, the uncertain law and order situation here became a bone of contention for visiting teams. Pakistan ‘hosted’ Steve Waugh’s team in Colombo and Sharjah five months after a suicide bombing in Karachi cut New Zealand’s tour of Pakistan.
Pakistan clearly struggled to assemble a decent unit under Waqar Younis to combat the Australians with Wasim Akram, Saeed Anwar, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Yousuf Youhana (later to be known as Mohammad Yousuf) missing for various reasons.
In the given circumstances, Pakistan almost pulled of a ‘shock’ result in the first Test at Colombo’s P. Sara Oval after Shoaib Akhtar arguably gave one of his best performances with a five for 21 in the second innings, taking all those wickets in the space of 15 deliveries.
Pakistan made a brave attempt at the 316-run target before going down by 41 runs.
But the remaining two matches at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium were total farce. In the first of the double-header, Pakistan batting surrendered meekly for 59 and 53 to get annihilated by an innings and 198 runs in less than two days of play.
In the final match, Australia completed the sweep with an innings and 20-run victory. The then PCB chairman Lt Gen Tauqir Zia offered to quit but it wasn’t accepted by the board patron-in-chief Gen Pervez Musharraf.
Another tale of woe — 2004-05
The same old tale of woes continued in the unfamiliar environment of Australia when Pakistan, led by Inzamam-ul-Haq, landed there in late 2004. On their disastrous tour, Pakistan succumbed to the biggest defeat in terms of runs since the Second World War when Glenn McGrath’s eight for 24 spectacularly hustled them to 72 all out while Ricky Ponting’s side celebrated a massive victory by 491 runs.
Following the Perth hammering, effigies of several team members were burnt back home in anguish. But the result almost remained the same as Inzamam missed the last two Tests with a back injury. Australia won by nine wickets both in Melbourne and Sydney, while Youhana became the first Christian to lead Pakistan and celebrated the occasion with a ton.
Not ready — 2009-10
Further turmoil awaited Pakistan when Mohammad Yousuf went to Australia in 2009-10 as a reluctant skipper following Younis Khan’s resignation only a month before after reports of a rift in the team ranks surfaced.
Australia won the first Test in Melbourne by 170 runs before sealing a sensational 36-run success in Sydney. Through the efforts of the now banned Mohammad Asif (6-41), Pakistan shot out Ricky Ponting’s team for 127 and pressed home their advantage by taking a 206-run lead on the first innings.
Wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal then suddenly turned villain when he incredibly missed four straightforward chances, three of them from Michael Hussey who made 134, as Australia staged a comeback. Kamran’s younger sibling Umar also wasn’t prepared to take Pakistan through in the face of a moderate 176-run target.
Umar, who was well-set, conspired to hit against the line and perished just when the team needed him to hang in there. After he was gone, Pakistan added six more finally throwing in the towel.
Ponting couldn’t have hope for a better place than his home territory to rediscover form by hitting 209 as the skipper led his team to a 23-run win in Hobart to complete a 3-0 sweep. The aftermath of that tour instigated the board chief Ijaz Butt to ban Yousuf and Younis — who skipped the Test series but later played in the ODI series — indefinitely through an inquiry committee for infighting, while other stars were slapped with heavy fines and temporary bans.
The writer is a member of staff.
Test series defeats suffered by Pakistan
Series Winners Result
Pakistan in India 1952-53 India 2-1 (5)
Pakistan in West Indies 1957-58 West Indies 3-1 (5)
Australia in Pakistan 1959-60 Australia 2-0 (3)
England in Pakistan 1961-62 England 1-0 (3)
Pakistan in England 1962 England 4-0 (5)
Pakistan in England 1967 England 2-0 (3)
New Zealand in Pakistan 1969-70 New Zealand 1-0 (3)
Pakistan in England 1971 England 1-0 (3)
Pakistan in Australia 1972-73 Australia 3-0 (3)
Pakistan in West Indies 1976-77 West Indies 2-1 (5)
Pakistan in England 1978 England 2-0 (3)
Pakistan in India 1979-80 India 2-0 (6)
West Indies in Pakistan 1980-81 West Indies 1-0 (4)
Pakistan in Australia 1981-82 Australia 2-1 (3)
Pakistan in England 1982 England 2-1 (3)
Pakistan in Australia 1983-84 Australia 2-0 (5)
Pakistan in New Zealand 1984-85 New Zealand 2-0 (3)
Pakistan in Australia 1989-90 Australia 1-0 (3)
Pakistan in West Indies 1992-93 West Indies 2-0 (3)
Pakistan in South Africa 1994-95 South Africa 1-0 (1)
Sri Lanka in Pakistan 1995-96 Sri Lanka 2-1 (3)
Pakistan in Australia 1995-96 Australia 2-1 (3)
South Africa in Pakistan 1997-98 South Africa 1-0 (3)
Australia in Pakistan 1998-99 Australia 1-0 (3)
Zimbabwe in Pakistan 1998-99 Zimbabwe 1-0 (3)
Pakistan in Australia 1999-00 Australia 3-0 (3)
Sri Lanka in Pakistan 1999-00 Sri Lanka 2-1 (3)
England in Pakistan 2000-01 England 1-0 (3)
Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
in Pakistan/Sri Lanka (Asian Test
Championship 2001-02 Sri Lanka
Australia v Pakistan
Test Series (in Sri Lanka/UAE) 2002-03 Australia 3-0 (3)
Pakistan in South Africa 2002-03 South Africa 2-0 (2)
India in Pakistan 2003-04 India 2-1 (3)
Pakistan in Australia 2004-05 Australia 3-0 (3)
Pakistan in England 2006 England 3-0 (4)
Pakistan in South Africa 2006-07 South Africa 2-1 (3)
South Africa in Pakistan 2007-08 South Africa 1-0 (2)
Pakistan in Sri Lanka 2009 Sri Lanka 2-0 (3)
Pakistan in Australia 2009-10 Australia 3-0 (3)
Pakistan in England 2010 England 3-1 (4)
Pakistan in Sri Lanka 2012 Sri Lanka 1-0 (3)
Pakistan in South Africa 2012-13 South Africa 3-0 (3)
(Whitewashes in red)