The Pakistanis suffered from an ill-balanced and unimaginative tour. Prepared at short notice, the itinerary reflected the Australian Board of Control's concern that it would not be a success, a fear which proved groundless and in the circumstances with men of the quality of Intikhab Alam, Mushtaq and Sadiq Mohammad, Majid J. Khan, Zaheer Abbas, Asif Iqbal and Salim Altaf available for selection, quite illogical. Despite an innings defeat in the first Test in Adelaide after an inadequate preparation against a series of second-class rivals and two teams in Tasmania of doubtful first-class standard, the tourists drew no less than 115,721 people and earned takings of $A91,645.80 in the Melbourne Test.
One can only speculate what might have occurred on the field and in the various treasurers' offices had the Pakistanis had their rightful recognition and received a programme devised to fit them adequately for the Tests and a Test schedule in keeping with the normal requirements of an international tour. Obviously three Tests in successive weeks in separate States were too demanding for both teams. At least for the Pakistanis experiment was impossible, quite apart from the arduous nature of the itinerary. Despite their disadvantages, Pakistan made Australia fight all the way, to such an extent that they appeared probable winners of the last two Tests on the second last day of each game. In the end, Australia won the series handsomely, taking all three Tests, and if defeat was painful, it did provide the Pakistanis with the experience and knowledge necessary to go well armed on the second leg of their journey to New Zealand.
From the start of the tour, when the Western Australian Colts openers Charlesworth and Laird, neither of whom had played first-class cricket, handled the Pakistanis' attack with composure in an opening stand of 122, the suspected limitations of the tourists' bowling resources were quickly confirmed. Rodney Marsh, Australia's wicketkeeper, revealed the threadbare nature of the Pakistanis' bowling in their initial first-class match during his punishing 236, the highest innings of the season.
Intikhab Alam, possibly without peer as a leg-spinner in the game at present, was one in particular who suffered for want of a proficient spin bowling partner. When the Nawab of Pataudi's Indian side visited Australia in 1967-68, they had an even more drastic need for top quality pace bowlers, but at least they had a very fine spin trio in Prasanna, Bedi and Chandrasekhar to maintain pressure on Australia for long periods. This never seemed likely from the Pakistani bowlers until the last Test, when the pacemen Salim Altaf and Sarfraz Nawaz made some necessary adjustments to become worthy Test adversaries. They could not have been seen to better advantage than when they had Australia precariously close to defeat in the second innings in Sydney, Salim swinging the ball late and seaming it disconcertingly, and Sarfraz using his height to full effect.
If it was clear that the Pakistanis' bowling was their shortcoming, it was their batting which failed them in times of crisis in the second and third Tests, when the tourists were near victory in Melbourne and Sydney.
That there was an undercurrent of unrest within the team was evident at no stage until the announcement on the second day of the final Test that Saeed Ahmed, a former Pakistan Test captain and veteran of 41 Tests, and Mohammad Ilyas, an opening batsman with 10 Tests' experience, were to be sent back to Pakistan and would not accompany the team to New Zealand because of what was described as lack of fitness. It turned out that the team management was not satisfied with Saeed Ahmed's explanation for his unavailability for the third Test, that he had a back injury and could not be considered for what was obviously to be the most demanding Test of the series due to the green and well-grassed Sydney wicket. Saeed Ahmed and Dennis Lillee had exchanged words in the Melbourne Test during Saeed's unorthodox but successful first innings half-century. Lillee intended making capital from the wicket and he had made it known Saeed was to the forefront in his thoughts.
Mohammad Ilyas had a most unfortunate tour. In only his third game he was struck a severe blow in the face by a delivery which prevented him playing again on tour. Ultimately, after the decision that he should return to Pakistan, Mohammad Ilyas decided to stay in Australia as a migrant and made application for citizenship. Before the season was finished he was playing first-grade cricket with the Waverley club in Sydney.
Saeed Ahmed flew back to Pakistan after the final Test in Sydney. The whole unhappy affair appears to have been at the heart of the decision to make Majid J. Khan Pakistan's new captain following the tour of New Zealand, a series in which Intikhab Alam had a decisive influence.
Majid J. Khan was Pakistan's most successful batsman, hitting 762 runs for an average of 54.43 from his eight first-class games in Australia, but save for the Melbourne Test he had a disappointing Test series. His behaviour in Sydney was most strange for he adopted an inattentive attitude and occasionally sat down between deliveries at first slip. At times he was responsible for some splendid batting, on other occasions he was distinctly lack-lustre. Zaheer Abbas began well but was not a Test force. Mushtaq Mohammad had a generally unprofitable tour for the good batsman he is, having difficulty timing the ball on the fast pitches. His young brother, Sadiq, showed himself to be a top-class opener. Asif Iqbal had every opportunity to do well and more was expected of this experienced player, but he was troubled by a slight illness. Intikhab Alam provided much needed resolution at times, and Saleem Altaf won a host of admirers for his courageous efforts. His third Test bowling performance was outstanding.
The Pakistanis were a poor fielding side, and the injury to their Test wicket-keeper Wasim Bari did not help matters. Wasim dislocated his right index finger in the game against Western Australia and later this capable and enthusiastic player had the misfortune to suffer a skin ailment which kept him inactive until the side went to Tasmania. Intikhab Alam might have placed greater reliance on Mushtaq Mohammad and Pervez Sajjad for spin bowling support. Nasim-Ul-Ghani did well with limited opportunities with bat and ball, averaging 50 runs per innings from his three first-class matches.
Test matches--Played 3; Lost 3.
First-class Matches--Played 8; Won 2, Lost 5, Drawn 1.
All matches--Played 13; Won 5, Lost 6, Drawn 2.
Wins--Combined Victorian Country XI, Queensland, Combined Queensland Country XI, Southern NSW Country XI, Tasmania.
Losses-- Australia (three), Western Australia, Victoria, Northern NSW Country XI.
Draws--Western Australian Colts XI, Combined XI.