Perhaps the most ill-timed tour in Pakistan's cricket history, that by Australia in September and October 1988 was also one of the more unfortunate exercises in cricketing diplomacy. For the second consecutive series in Pakistan, the visiting team was virulent in its criticism of the pitch and the standard of the umpiring during the first Test match of a series. As they had against England the previous year, Pakistan won by an innings, with seventeen Australian wickets falling to their spin bowlers. The remaining two Tests were then drawn and the series won 1-0.
However, there were other factors contributing to the tour's failure to excite more than controversy. The death in a plane crash of General Zia ul-Haq, the President of Pakistan, in August had unsettled the country, with fears of rioting and civil war being expressed. Furthermore, the political parties were preparing for the general election in mid-November. Karachi and Hyderabad were in the grip of ethnic violence, which resulted in the cancellation of the two one-day internationals scheduled for those cities on October 14 and 15 respectively, while the first international of the intended three-match series, at Gujranwala on September 30, had to be called off because floods affected a vast area of the Punjab and Sindh. In their place, a one-day international was played at Lahore after the Test match there.
For Pakistan's supporters, still savouring their team's success in the West Indies earlier in the year, there was disappointment at Imran Khan's decision not to play in the series as a protest over the timing of the tour. In his view, the weather in Pakistan at that time of the year was too hot for cricket. It was a view which had been expressed by the Australian manager, Colin Egar, in 1982-83 after his side had gone down 3-0 at the same time of the year to a Pakistan side led by Imran. Egar had said then that he would recommend that future Australian sides visited the Indian sub-continent at a less inappropriate time of the year.
Egar was again manager of the Australian touring team, and along with Bob Simpson, the coach, was the leading protagonist in the controversy that erupted on the third day of the First Test. It resulted from what the Australians considered were questionable decisions by Mahboob Shah, one of Pakistan's more reliable umpires. He had stood in the previous year's World Cup final when Australia beat England in Calcutta. Australia, in reply to Pakistan's first-innings score of 469 for nine declared, were faring badly against the left-arm spinner, Iqbal Qasim. And when Steve Waugh was given out lbw without scoring to leave Australia 54 for five, the Australians' ire knew no bounds. Egar and Simpson went to the Pakistan Board officials' room to lodge their protest in a manner and language considered insulting by the Pakistanis. Then, during the tea interval, they called the Australian journalists to a press conference at which they criticised the pitch and Mahboob Shah's decisions. Egar, a former Test umpire, later challenged the umpire himself.
Such was the strength of Australian feeling about the conduct of the match that, at the end, there was a possibility of the team abandoning the tour. Allan Border, the Australian captain, described the Karachi pitch as the worst he had seen anywhere and said they would have to consider carefully whether or not to return home. It would seem like sour grapes after losing the Test, he said but ultimately somebody has to make a stand. A statement issued by the Australian team the next day emphasised that it was not the first touring team to take exception to the standard of the pitches and the umpiring in Pakistan. The situation is unacceptable and damaging to the international cricket, yet nothing seems to be done. We appeal to the Pakistan Board and the ICC to take a long and honest look at the situation confronting visiting teams....
Inevitably the tour did continue, although the strained relations between the hosts and their visitors were amply illustrated by the Pakistan Board's decision to appoint Mahboob Shah for the Second Test. This in spite of the Australians' request that he should not stand. In this Test and the final one, Australia fought back well. But for Bruce Reid's inability to bowl on the final day of the Third Test, they might have squared the series. On the other hand, Pakistan were the better of the two sides.
The Australians' fielding, both in the air and on the ground, was woefully short of the standard expected from an Australian team. Some observers considered it the worst by a visiting team to Pakistan. Moreover, it was a weakness doubly compounded because the Australians' bowling proved stronger than their batting and, especially in the first two Tests, was poorly supported in the field. With the ball turning and bouncing unevenly, it was not the happiest of series for the young Queensland wicket-keeper, Ian Healy.
Of the Australian bowlers, Reid, the tall Western Australian left-armer, was especially outstanding, claiming fourteen wickets in the series and troubling all the Pakistan batsmen. It was a severe blow to Australia's chances of winning the Third Test when he suffered a recurrence of the back trouble which had earlier interrupted his career. Tony Dodemaide gave him good support, but Craig McDermott was never fully fit and did not play in the Test matches. Off-spinner Tim May also took fourteen wickets in the series and impressed with his easy action and willingness to flight the ball. Neither Peter Taylor, the other off-spinner, not Peter Sleep, the leg-spinner, was as effective, although several times Taylor's determined batting proved an asset in a line-up lacking the confidence and technique to counter the strong, balanced Pakistan spin attack. Steve Waugh, who might have been expected to deal with the spinners better than most, received two dubious decisions in the First Test, and his 59 in the final Test was his only half-century of the tour. Dean Jones also struggled to recapture his form, while Graeme Wood, back in the Australian side after an absence of more than three years, made little impact after beginning the tour with two half-centuries. Geoff Marsh was the Australians' most consistent batsman, while Border's unbeaten 113 in the Second Test was their only hundred of the series.
In contrast, for Pakistan Miandad hit two hundreds, including his first double-hundred against Australia, Ijaz Ahmed scored his maiden Test hundred, and there was an innings of 94 from Shoaib Mohammad. At Lahore, Miandad in his 95th Test became the first Pakistani, and the eleventh batsman in all, to reach 7,000 runs in Test cricket. Of Pakistan's bowlers, Iqbal Qasim showed at 35 his mastery of the left-armer's art, particularly on Pakistan wickets, and Tauseef Ahmed provided relentless pressure with the accuracy of his off-spinning. If lack of bounce somewhat negated the threat of Abdul Qadir, the leg-spinner, like Tauseef, captured eleven wickets in the series, one fewer than Iqbal Qasim.
AUSTRALIAN TOUR RESULTS
Test Matches- Played 3: Lost 1, Drawn 2.
First-class matches- Played 6: Lost 1, Drawn 5.
Draws- Pakistan (2), BCCP Patron's XI, Baluchistan Governor's XI, NWFP Governor's XI.
One-day international- Played 1: Lost 1.
Other non first-class match- Won v Hong Kong Cricketers Association.
TEST MATCHES AVERAGES
| Javed Miandad||3||5||0||412||211||2||82.40|
| Shoaib Mohammad||3||5||0||195||94||0||39.00|
| Ijaz Ahmed||3||5||0||172||122||1||34.40|
| Salim Yousuf||3||5||1||136||66*||0||34.00|
| Tauseef Ahmed||3||5||2||76||35*||0||25.33|
| Ramiz Raja||3||5||0||126||64||0||25.20|
| Iqbal Qasim||3||4||1||68||28||0||22.66|
| Mudassar Nazar||3||5||0||112||49||0||22.40|
| Salim Malik||3||5||0||94||45||0||18.80|
| Abdul Qadir||3||5||0||51||18||0||10.20|
|Played in two Tests: Saleem Jaffer 0, 0*. Played in one Test: Aamer Malik 17*.|
* Signifies not out.
| Iqbal Qasim||103.5||48||178||12||5-35||14.83|
| Mudassar Nazar||50||13||95||4||2-39||23.75|
| Tauseef Ahmed||160.4||64||267||11||3-73||24.27|
| Abdul Qadir||135||37||320||11||3-34||29.09|
| Saleem Jaffer||78||18||219||5||2-60||43.80|
|Also bowled: Aamer Malik 4-2-6-1; Salim Malik 6-4-7-1; Shoaib Mohammad 4-1-7-1.|
AUSTRALIA - BATTING
| A. R. Border||3||5||1||230||113*||1||57.50|
| P. L. Taylor||2||4||2||110||54*||0||55.00|
| G. R. Marsh||3||6||1||233||84*||0||46.60|
| G. M. Wood||3||5||1||87||32||0||21.75|
| D. C. Boon||3||6||0||117||43||0||19.50|
| I. A. Healy||3||4||0||74||27||0||18.50|
| S. R. Waugh||3||5||0||92||59||0||18.40|
| T. B. A. May||3||4||1||33||14||0||11.00|
| A. I. C. Dodemaide||3||4||0||43||19||0||10.75|
| D. M. Jones||3||6||1||44||21*||0||8.80|
| B. A. Reid||3||4||1||17||8*||0||5.66|
|Played in one Test: P. R. Sleep 12.|
* Signifies not out.