Second Test, Pakistan v Australia (Abu Dhabi) – Day 3: Who saw this coming?

Pakistan 6(dec)/570 & 2/62; Australia 261.

Let’s turn back time. Just a few short weeks. Australia thump Pakistan in the tour-opening T20, and then convincingly win the first two ODIs. The third 50-over match goes down to the wire, but the end result is that Australia completes a clean sweep of the four white-ball international matches. Given the locale, it’s a satisfying result. Sure, the Aussies then get smashed by Pakistan A in Sharjah, but no-one really takes these warm-up matches seriously.

Even given the benefit of hindsight, did anyone see this coming: two Test matches in which Australia has been comprehensively outplayed by a hungrier Pakistani team?

I must admit that, while I respected their solid – if inconsistent – batting line-up, I did not think that Pakistan had anywhere near the bowling fire-power to allow them to take 20 Australian wickets in a match. How wrong I was. But I am reasonably confident I am not Robinson Crusoe.

Day 3 brought into sharp focus everything that has gone wrong with the batting on this tour. David Warner gifted his wicket to Pakistan, belting a rank long-hop to point. New number 3 Glenn Maxwell (37 off 28 balls) batted like he had forgotten that there were two more days of play scheduled. Steve Smith was fired before he could even adjust to the conditions, and skipper Michael Clarke showed some signs of returning to form with a solid 47, but even he looked like he was in a hurry to be elsewhere. Maybe James Packer has his yacht moored of the coast there somewhere? Night-watchman Nathan Lyon, limited batsman that he is, at least tried to hang around, scoring 15 off 85 balls.

Of all the failings in these two Tests, to me one of the most obvious has been that the Australian batsmen – in their quest to be free-scoring entertainers – have lost the ability to occupy the crease. I was surprised that, in the wake of the humiliation of the first defeat, coach Darren Lehmann reckoned that his batsmen were too “timid” and not aggressive enough. “Boof” pulled the wrong rein there. From my perspective, the Australian batsmen have been far too impatient. And in the middle-east and on the sub-continent patience is what wins you Test matches. Too often, it has seemed like the Aussies are still in “white-ball” mode.

The highlight of the evening’s play for Australia was Mitchell Marsh’s 87. He was streaky, he was fortunate, but the score-book doesn’t say how you got them – it merely records the score.

For the Pakistanis, Imran Khan (3-60) took the honours. The reverse-swinging aggot that knocked Clarke over was a gem. And it immediately brought to mind a failing of the Australian bowlers: why can’t any of them get a handle on reverse-swing?

Our Test team is being thoroughly examined right now, and they are failing badly. In the second dig, I hope that they put all that aggression bunkum to one side and attempt to knuckle down and occupy the crease. There is nothing wrong with leaving balls! But when they slide to their inevitable defeat either today or tomorrow, there will be plenty of questions to be asked about the make-up of the team. At present, no-one – not Boof Lehmann, not Clarke, not me – appears to have the answers.

About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Yep, with you Smokie. You can reasonably ask if a test is winnable for the team batting second (and fourth) in these conditions. Regardless, the remaining option is to occupy the crease with your 20 wickets for three days. No one has shown more than limited desire to hang around long enough in those conditions. The vulnerability to reverse swing and the subtle variations of the spinners do not bode well for future series outside Australia.

  2. Good call Smokie.
    The skill of saving a game seems lost from the current crop (C Rogers aside).
    But then, maybe the opposition is just too good.

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Totally agree , Smokie the lack of dedication and patience to fight hard to get the draw has been terrible also spot on re the reverse swing it is a skill which we are generally well behind the rest of the world in executing

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Didn’t see it coming either Smokie, especially with their very inexperienced (at Test level) bowling attack going in to the series. They’ve made some real finds there with Imran Khan and the two spinners.

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