In the second part of our flashbacks to the four Australia-Pakistan Tests played at Adelaide Oval, we take a look at the 1976 and 1983 contests featuring greats including Dennis Lillee, Greg Chappell, Allan Border, Javed Miandad, Imran Khan and Abdul Qadir.
It’s been a while - three decades, in fact. But Pakistan is finally coming back to Adelaide Oval to face Australia in a Test match starting on 29 November.
December 24-29 1976: Match drawn.
Thommo. The very mention of the name spread fear among batsmen the world over - no-one has bowled faster than Jeff Thomson did in the mid 1970s. Adelaide crowds couldn’t get enough of the lovable larrikin, fans chanting “Thommo … Thommo” from the outer as he roared in. But Thomson may not have loved Adelaide Oval Tests as much. And in 1976-77 against Pakistan, just as he appeared to have the tourists on the ropes, he was involved in a sickening collision in the field, crashing into Alan Turner as they charged in to try to take a catch off his bowling on Christmas Eve.
Well-known SA umpire Max O’Connell, standing at the bowler’s end, said he heard Thomson’s shoulderbone crack - “it was like a pistol shot, I knew it was serious”. The crash has been likened to skipper Steve Waugh and SA pace ace Jason Gillespie’s horrifying collision when they threw themselves at the ball in an attempt to take a catch against Sri Lanka in Kandy in 1999.
Thomson, who had taken 2/34, dislocated his right shoulder and did not bowl again until Australia’s tour of England in 1977. Just two years earlier, in the fifth Test against England on Adelaide Oval, Thommo, who had already snared 33 wickets in the Ashes campaign, seriously injured a shoulder playing tennis on the rest day - remember those? - and it was series over.
The loss of Thomson to injury for most of the Adelaide Oval Test against Pakistan cost the Aussies a win.
Zaheer Abbas made 85 - he was the batsman who should have been caught by Thomson or Turner when he skied a mistimed pull shot - and promising 24-year-old allrounder Imran Khan gave a hint of his ability with 48 but Pakistan still only managed 272, leg-spinner Kerry O’Keeffe picking up 3/42.
There was a slice of history on Adelaide Oval when NSW opener Ian Davis made his first Test century on Boxing Day - and brought it up with a pull for six. Another crowd favourite, Doug Walters, also made a ton. Davis (105), Walters (107), Rick McCosker (65) and captain Greg Chappell (52) lifted the Aussies to a commanding total of 454.
Pakistan, making the most of the Aussies being a bowler short, dug in. Zaheer completed a great double by making 101 but it was unfashionable Asif Iqbal, sporting a big floppy white hat, who held firm to give the Pakistanis the chance to avoid a series-opening loss. He defied Aussie pace great Dennis Lillee for four-and-a-half hours, batting into the final day for an unbeaten 152. Lillee bowled 47.7 overs (these were the days of eight-ball overs in Australia) claiming 5/163 in a huge effort on a typically batter-friendly Adelaide Oval wicket. O’Keeffe bowled 53 overs to take 3/166 and Pakistan made it to 466 - thanks in no small way to an 87-run last-wicket partnership, Asif Iqbal expertly farming the strike as No. 11 Iqbal Qasim made just four, eventually run out.
Australia needed 285 to win - but time was now an issue. Still, when Greg Chappell and Walters were at the crease - they took the score to 3/201 - Adelaide fans were counting down the runs to another home-town success. But the Aussies lost 3/27 as left-arm spinner Qasim struck, dismissing Walters (51), Gary Gilmour (five) and, crucially, Chappell for 70 from 118 balls.
With 11 overs remaining, the Aussies needed 42 but, without injured Thomson, Rod Marsh (13 not out) and SA’s Gary Cosier (25 not out) adopted a safety-first attitude, blocking out some late overs on the way to 6/261. The anti-climactic finish didn’t win too many fans for the Aussies, used to so much success in the previous few summers. Victorian Premier Dick Hamer declared: “They had a chance for victory and they should have gone for it.” Marsh had the last word. “I’d sure as hell like to know how many Test matches the Premier of Victoria has played.”
December 9-13 1983: Match drawn.
The Aussies, captained by Kim Hughes, would have thought they had done pretty well by reaching 465 against the touring Pakistanis. But they ended up trailing by 159 on the first innings!
By the time that was all done - Pakistan batted well into the fourth day - a draw was a pretty likely result on a Les Burdett belter.
South African-born Queenslander Kepler Wessels was the talk of the town on the opening day as he hit his Test highest score of 179. The left-handed opener batted for 340 minutes before falling to effervescent googly bowler Abdul Qadir. Another left-hander - one of the all-time greats - Allan Border, reached his ton on the second day, compiling an unbeaten 117 in the Aussies’ big score.
Big was becoming bigger as Pakistan reached 1/306, opener Mohsin Khan making 149 and chirpy Kenyan-born No. 3 Qasim Umar blasting 113. The tourists passed Australia’s score having lost just four wickets - they incredibly were 4/557 at one stage. Pakistan’s most capped Test player Javed Miandad scored 131, Saleem Malik hit 77 and skipper Zaheer Abbas was just about as failure as he fell to Rodney Hogg for 46.
Lillee again showed, while he was about as talented as any fast bowler Australia has produced, he also was as hard working as anyone. He bowled 50.2 overs to pick up 6/171, one of 23 times in Tests he claimed five wickets in an innings.
Hughes displayed all his grace and class to give the Adelaide Oval crowd another innings to talk about, making 106 in Australia’s second innings, which ended at 7/310. Border helped himself to another 66 and South Aussie opening batsman Wayne Phillips, who kickstarted the series with a stunning 159 on debut in Perth, made 54.
There was no going through the motions in the dying overs from Javed, who came on for a rare bowling stint and had the crowd in stitches as he impersonated the actions of Hogg, Lillee, Imran and Qadir.