It has long been the view of the vast majority of Australian cricketers that a tour of Pakistan is both exhausting and unrewarding. Yet more often than not they have exaggerated the difficulty of the exercise. This was again the case in 1994-95, when they squandered precious opportunities to win their first Test match in Pakistan since 1959-60.
Despite being the most relaxed, focused and aware Australian team to visit Pakistan - they were even briefed on how to answer awkward questions - new captain Mark Taylor and his team were beset by the same problem that plagued their predecessors: dropped catches. They put down 13 in the three Tests; the last three Australian teams to Pakistan are estimated to have put down 48 in nine Tests. Allan Border's petulant party of 1988-89 dropped 14, while Kim Hughes's team of 1982-83 dropped 21. Yet, in spite of these lapses and a sequence of serious injuries to their most influential players, the Australians earned a substantial first-innings advantage in all three Tests and had legitimate winning chances in each of them. They even enforced the follow-on in Rawalpindi.
But they were thwarted at every turn, principally by Pakistan captain Salim Malik, who proved a formidable opponent. He batted for 21 hours in the series, amassing 557 runs at 92.83, beating Graham Yallop's record for Australian and Pakistan Tests of 554 at 92.33 in 1983-84. In Rawalpindi and Lahore he composed match-saving, series-winning hundreds. Despite Malik's impressive batting performance, which seemed to strengthen his grip on the captaincy he had acquired as a compromise candidate, the series was to lead to his downfall a few months later. While Pakistan were touring Zimbabwe in February, an Australian newspaper alleged that he had offered Shane Warne, Tim May and Mark Waugh bribes to throw the Karachi Test; the Australian players later made written statements to ICC. Malik denied the reports, but he was sacked on his return home.
Though leg-spinner Warne equalled Richie Benaud's record 18 wickets for an Australian in Pakistan, the bowlers struggled at crucial moments. To be fair, Taylor never had all his new-ball bowlers available for the same match. "We just couldn't get the big wicket," he said. "It started with Karachi: we needed one wicket, couldn't do it. The morning of the fourth day at Rawalpindi we needed a wicket, couldn't get it. And on the final morning in Lahore we needed one wicket, couldn't do it. You look back on the tour and say it was pretty good. But you've got to look at results. That's what's going to be there for everyone to see in years to come, and we lost 1-0."
The tenor of an absorbing series was set in Karachi in the First Test, when Pakistan won a thrilling match by one wicket and Warne, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, the world's three most destructive bowlers at the time, took 23 wickets between them. Yet, with the exception of the dramatic final day in Karachi, the crowds stayed away, preferring matches in the limited-overs competition which also included South Africa. Australia won that, having played indifferently in a four-way tournament in Sri Lanka before their arrival.
Anxious to make reparation for an acrimonious visit in 1988-89, the Australians - particularly Warne - were popular everywhere they travelled. And, while Taylor had a frustrating introduction to the demands and challenges of captaincy, he none the less acquitted himself impressively. It was clear he had immeasurably more support inside and outside the dressing-room than did his counterpart Malik.
M. A. Taylor (New South Wales) (captain), I. A. Healy (Queensland) (vice-captain), J. Angel (Western Australia), M. G. Bevan (New South Wales), D. C. Boon (Tasmania), D. W. Fleming (Victoria), J. L. Langer (Western Australia), C. J. McDermott (Queensland), G. D. McGrath (New South Wales), T. B. A. May (South Australia), G. R. Robertson (New South Wales), M. J. Slater (New South Wales), S. K. Warne (Victoria), M. E. Waugh (New South Wales), S. R. Waugh (New South Wales).
P. A. Emery (New South Wales) joined the party as a replacement for the injured Healy.
Manager: C. Egar. Coach: R. B. Simpson.
Test matches - Played 3: Lost 1, Drawn 2.
First-class matches - Played 4: Lost 1, Drawn 3.
Loss - Pakistan.
Draws - Pakistan (2), President's XI.
One-day internationals - Played 7: Won 5, Lost 1, No result 1. Wins - Pakistan (2), South Africa (3). Loss - Pakistan. No result - Pakistan.
Match reports for
BCCP President's XI v Australians at Rawalpindi, Sep 23-25, 1994
8th Match: Pakistan v Australia at Gujranwala, Oct 26, 1994