Two-Test series are commonplace nowadays and far from traditionalists who think they are short and inconsequential. But, another visit to Australia by Pakistan, 45 years ago, remembered for being consequential, controversial and infamous. Played at the end of summer, the series was added on late into the season and Pakistan could play all of its ‘Packer players’ while Australia would field a weakened team. The Pak team was favorites, as they had tied a series with the best Aussie XI two years ago. Growing up in Australia, I was 10 years old and grew fond of the young Australian players, like Kim Hughes and Allan Border.
Not much is remembered of the first part of the first Test except that both teams scored less than 200 and there was an incident when Hogg was run out and a commotion occurred. In the second innings, Pakistan scored 353 and Australia needed 382 to win but Sarfraz proceeded to take 7/1 in a stunning spell and Pakistan won by 71 runs. This was later discovered as the first real demonstration of the cricketing world of reverse swing bowling.
In the week before the second Test, Australian captain Graeme Yallop tore his calf muscle and had to withdraw, and Hughes was made the 37th Test captain at his home city of Perth. The second Test would become a truly classic game with Australia chasing down a tough target late on Day Five. Despite a setback with Hilditch being out for handling the ball, they managed to lead them to a memorable seven-wicket win.
The series ended 1-1 and the compromise between the Australian Cricket Board and World Series Cricket was announced. Cricket has never been the same again and many of the Australian players in this series never played a test at home again. For Border, this series was the first step in his journey to becoming one of Australia’s greatest batters and captains. From the Pakistani point of view, the series was to start the process of transition for their team under the stewardship of Imran Khan and Javed Miandad. They are still waiting for their first Test series win in Australia – perhaps this might happen over the next four weeks.