The principal reason for Pakistan's disappointing showing in their first five-Test series in Australia was the inability of their captain, Imran Khan, to bowl on the tour because of the stress fracture to his left shin. He was able to play in the last two Test matches, but only as a batsman. His absence had a depressing effect on the team as a whole and precipitated a seemingly endless succession of political battles within Pakistan cricket. After the tour Intikhab Alam severed his three-year appointment as manager of the Pakistan team, still with a year of his contract to run.
With the advantage of hindsight, it would probably have been better if Imran had not been chosen for the tour. The selectors had originally named Zaheer Abbas as captain, on the assumption that Imran, who had been unable to bowl for Pakistan in the World Cup or for Sussex in the County Championship in 1983, would not be fit. The president of the BCCP, Air Marshal Nur Khan, then reinstated Imran as captain and sacked the selectors, though it is doubtful if adequate medical checks were made on Imran's leg before this decision was taken. Upon arrival in Brisbane at the start of the tour Imran was advised to take no exercise for fifteen days, and after each subsequent X-ray the date for his return was pushed back even further. Just before the second Test match in Brisbane, on instructions from Pakistan, Zaheer was, in fact, reappointed official captain in place of Imran, only for the decision to be reversed the following day - mainly because of Zaheer's unwillingness to take on a party which had originally been selected by Imran rather than by Zaheer himself.
Another reason for Pakistan's defeat was the absence of Sarfraz Nawaz, who was all the more badly needed with Imran out of action. Having not been selected for the tour of India, which preceded the tour of Australia, Sarfraz had criticised the selectors and so been banned from official cricket for six months. Expediency now prompted the authorities to lift the ban and Sarfraz took his place in the side in time for the third Test in Adelaide. By then, however, he had missed the pitches in Perth and Brisbane which would have better suited him.
It was clear from the opening match against Queensland that Pakistan's attack would be below standard, with a great deal depending on the leg-breaks and googlies of Abdul Qadir, who in the event did not bowl with his usual skill until the Tests had ended and the Benson and Hedges one-day competition begun. Australia sometimes had as many as six left-handers in the first eight in their order, with the result that Qadir, bowling round the wicket at them, which tended to neutralise the googly, was mercilessly swept out of the series.
The main batsmen also failed to score enough runs. Zaheer seemed to have lost his nerve against genuine pace bowling. Javed Miandad was much too inconsistent for such a very good player, and Mudassar Nazar scored consistently only against the states. The two batting successes were Mohsin Khan, who played handsome innings of 149 and 152 in the third and fourth Tests, and Qasim Omar. The latter won the hearts of the Australian public by his courage. In the first Test he was the only Pakistan batsman to move unflinchingly into line against the Australian fast bowlers, and in Adelaide he scored a splendid first Test hundred. Pakistan's failures continued in the Benson and Hedges World Series Cup competition, although they did have a remarkable win by 97 runs over West Indies in Melbourne.
The main reason for Australia's success lay once again with their fast bowlers, who have been the cause of most of their victories over the last ten years. When fit, Dennis Lillee, Rodney Hogg, Geoff Lawson and Carl Rackemann made a formidable quartet. In his last series Lillee played in all five Tests, his leg-cutter being as venomous as ever; the other three all suffered at times from injury. Wayne Phillips, on his début for Australia, made a good 159 against a weak Pakistan attack in the first Test, but he was unable to live up to this heady beginning. Greg Chappell, Kim Hughes, Kepler Wessels, Graham Yallop and Allan Border also made hundreds. Like Lillee, Chappell and Rod Marsh both announced their intention to retire from Test and international cricket at the end of the Australian season.
Test Matches - Played 5: Lost 2, Drawn 3.
First-class matches - Played 11: Won 3, Lost 3, Drawn 5.
Wins - South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania.
Losses - Australia (2), Western Australia.
Draws - Australia (3), Queensland, New South Wales.
Non first-class matches: Played 13: Won 4, Lost 8, No Result 1. Wins - South Australia Country XI, Western Australia Country XI, South-West New South Wales, West Indies. Losses - Australia (4), West Indies (4). No Result - Australia.
Note: In all first-class matches, wides and no-balls were debited to the bowlers' analyses.
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