Australia's tour of India in October 1996 was a disappointment and a setback. They lost the Test match and the five one-day games they contested with India and South Africa in the Titan Cup. Their position as world Test champions - widely proclaimed after their victory in the Caribbean in 1995 - was compromised and, according to the Wisden World Championship table, temporarily lost.
India's solid performance should not be devalued, but the result was probably inevitable. So unsympathetic was the tourists' itinerary that the one-off Test appeared to have more to do with Australian foreign policy than cricket: the Test, played for the new Border-Gavaskar Trophy, was arranged to coincide with a festival designed to strengthen links between the two countries.
Australia arrived seriously under-cooked for their first Test in India for almost ten years. It came after a winter lay-off, a visit to Sri Lanka for another inconsequential limited-overs quadrangular and just one first-class match, rain-affected.
There was no formal mention of the fact, but the visit marked the 60th anniversary of Indo-Australian cricket, which began when Jack Ryder led the Maharaja of Patiala's Australian team to pre-partition India in 1935-36. In view of this, and the fact that the Australian government was intent on improving relations with Delhi, it was ironic that cricketing ties between the two countries were so strained.
The Australian Cricket Board had been in bad odour in India since it directed Mark Taylor's team not to play in Sri Lanka in the World Cup earlier in 1996 and then campaigned against Indian board secretary Jagmohan Dalmiya's bid for the chairmanship of the International Cricket Council. Suffering from sub-continental fatigue syndrome on their third visit to the nine months, the Australians were unable to distance themselves from the politicking and it showed in their cricket.
M. A. Taylor (New South Wales) (captain), I. A. Healy (Queensland) (vice-captain), M. G. Bevan (New South Wales), D. W. Fleming (Victoria), J. N. Gillespie (South Australia), G. B. Hogg (Western Australia), S. G. Law (Queensland), G. D. McGrath (New South Wales), P. E. McIntyre (South Australia), R. T. Ponting (Tasmania), P. R. Reiffel (Victoria), M. J. Slater (New South Wales), M. E. Waugh (New South Wales), S. R. Waugh (New South Wales).
McIntyre replaced S. K. Warne (Victoria), who withdrew before the tour because of finger surgery. A. C. Gilchrist (Western Australia) reinforced the party when Healy was injured during the limited-overs Titan Cup.
Manager: Dr C. Battersby. Coach: G. R. Marsh.
Test match - Played 1: Lost 1.
First-class matches - Played 2: Lost 1, Drawn 1.
Loss - India.
Draw - Board President's XI.
One-day internationals - Played 6: Lost 5, No result 1. Losses - India (2), South Africa (3).
No result - India.
Match reports for
6th Match: India v Australia at Cuttack, Oct 27, 1996