Unexpected events during Australia’s home seasons (2009-2022)

As the Australian home international cricket season is set to start in over a week’s time with Zimbabwe touring for an ODI series, I was thinking about some events that I’ve witnessed during the Aussie home seasons.

Some were iconic, some outrageous, and some were both. With that in mind, here are some unexpected events during Australia’s home seasons that I love between 2009-2002.

Australian captain Pat Cummins celebrates with team mates after dismissing Chris Woakes of England during day one of the First Test Match in the Ashes series between Australia and England at The Gabba on December 08, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Pat Cummins celebrates getting five wickets in the first Test. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

West Indies tour of Australia – November/December 2009

The men from the Caribbean started their tour of Australia horribly, losing the first Test by an innings and 65 runs within the third day. The second Test was a huge improvement, with the Windies forcing the Aussies to accept a draw in a high scoring game at Adelaide Oval.

But no one saw what could predict what would happen at Perth as the West Indies wanted to salvage a series draw. Australia started the third Test brilliantly, scoring a humongous 7/520 declared – putting a West Indies victory almost out of the equation.

Chris Gayle entertained the WACA crowd with a 72 ball 102, but that wasn’t enough for West Indies to remain in the game as they were bowled out for 312.

Despite gaining a 208-run lead, Australia would not opt for the follow on. Dwayne Bravo and Suliemann Benn led the way with the ball, as Australia lost 8/69 en route to being bowled out for 150 in the second innings. West Indies would require 359 for victory.

Despite losing a few quick wickets, Brendan Nash (65) and Narsingh Deonarine (82) took the visitors closer to victory, but their dismissals saw the West Indies batting lose control once again. At 9/279, all hope seemed lost for the West Indies.

But Kemar Roach and Gavin Tongue did not give up. The pair battled hard, taking the required target from 80 to below 50 as the runs were piling on quickly.

Early on day five, the West Indies required 36 runs for victory. But Doug Bollinger would dismiss Roach and give Ricky Ponting a sigh of relief as Australia won a thrilling Test match by 35 runs.

No one expected the West Indies to fight back the way they did after being thrashed at Brisbane. But to their credit, they fought back hard against Australia and nearly drew the series. Chris Gayle’s heroics in the series with 346 runs would earn him player of the series.

Pakistan bottling it somehow – February 2010

No, I’m not talking about the Test where they lost by 36 runs at the SCG after having the Aussies on the ropes for ¾ of the Test. I’m talking about a bigger embarrassment than that. In the one off T20I at the MCG, Australia were in a good position at 2/68 in the ninth over.

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And then all hell broke loose. While David Hussey fought hard, his partners came and left faster than an average Chris Martin innings as the Aussies were bowled out for 127 in the 19th over. Wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal led the chase with a 33 ball 64, as Pakistan needed 30 off 36 with six wickets in hand.

Except Pakistan found a way to collapse so bad, they would lose by two runs. To this day, I’m still speechless about that. And Steve Smith being Australia’s leading T20 spinner for a few years.

Malinga you bloody beauty – November 2010

In the first ODI between Australia and Sri Lanka at the MCG, Sri Lanka were tasked chasing a modest total of 240. The run chase went woefully wrong, with Xavier Doherty running through the Sri Lankan lineup as the visitors found themselves at 8/107 in the 26th over.

Lasith Malinga came in at no.10 with a career high score in ODI cricket of 16. What could this man do with the bat? A lot, as the Aussie bowlers would find out.

The superstar chanced his arm with the bat, hitting six fours and two sixes en route to a career best of 56 before being run out chasing the winning run. Mutiah Muralitharan hit the winning runs as Sri Lanka won by one wicket.

While Angelo Mathews was adjudged player of the match for his innings of 77 not out, the magic that Malinga displayed with the willow was one moment no one saw coming.

Bollinger saves Australia, with the bat? – January 2011

Following an embarrassing home Ashes series loss (what do you expect when Xavier Doherty and Michael Beer are chosen ahead of Steve O’Keefe), Australia wanted to get one over England in the ODI series. In the second ODI at Bellerive Oval, Australia collapsed twice in between a 100 run 5th wicket stand en route to being 8/142 in the 37th over.

Enter Doug Bollinger. The left arm seamer first provided some much needed support for Shaun Marsh (110 off 114), before he started swinging late into the Australian innings. Bollinger scored a crucial run a ball 30, helping Australia post 230 all out in the 49th over.

Bollinger then took 4/28 with the ball as Australia won by 46 runs, although Marsh was named player of the match.

Faf’s resilience in Adelaide – November 2012

Australia were on course for an easy victory at the Adelaide Oval as South Africa were 4-45 in their run chase of 430 on day four. But Faf Du Plessis had other ideas.

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The debutant scored 78 in the first innings, and would back it up with one of the finest blockathons in the 21st century – scoring 110 not out off 376 balls to salvage an almost impossible draw for the South Africans. South Africa would build on that momentum to thrash the Aussies at Perth, and win the three match Test series 1-0.

Kulasekara’s day out at the Gabba – January 2013

Arguably the finest spell of swing bowling in an ODI on Australian soil over the past 15 years, Sri Lankan seamer Nuwan Kulasekara took 5/22 off his ten overs to bowl out the Aussies for 74. To the Australians credit, they fought hard with a bugger all total, making the Sri Lankans work hard for a four wicket victory.

The Gabba is known to assist bowlers in day games, but for a day nighter where the ball was swinging miles was unexpected. However, Kulasekara utilised the conditions perfectly.

A thrashing at the WACA – November 2016

When Dale Steyn went off injured, Australia were 1-166 in reply to South Africa’s first innings total of 242. With debutant Keshav Maharaj and two fit frontline seamers in Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada, all hope seemed lost for the Proteas.

Except the Proteas bowlers grew an extra leg, producing a collapse no one saw coming with the Aussies receiving a slender lead of two runs.

The South African bats piled on the runs, scoring 8/540 declared before winning the Test by 177 runs on day five. Arguably one of Australia’s most embarrassing home Test losses in the 2010s and one of South Africa’s finest ever Test wins – especially with only three fit frontline bowlers.

Pakistan’s continuous love affair for collapses – December 2016

After nearly winning at the Gabba, Pakistan started the second Test well – scoring 9/443 declared in their first innings. But their bowling and fielding was woeful as the visitors poor body language saw the Aussies declare at 8/624 on day five.

With many overs lost to rain. Needing to bat out 68 overs to bat out a draw, the visitors were likely to stop an Australian win. But, the unpredictability of Pakistan came out to the fore once again. Only Azhar Ali and Sarfaraz Ahmed (both scoring 43 each) showed some fight with the bat, as Pakistan lost by an innings and 18 runs after being bowled out in the 54th over.

Sometimes, unpredictability is not good and that showed late in the year of 2016 for the Pakistanis.

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Gunaratne steals the show in Geelong – February 2017

With the Australian Test squad preparing in India, the Australians fielded a weaker T20 outfit. After losing the first T20 in a tight game, the hosts had Sri Lanka on the ropes at 5/40 chasing 174. All rounder Adela Gunaratne took the game deep, with Sri Lanka needing 36 off 11 with three wickets in hand.

He would proceed to hit four sixes and three fours off his next nine balls, as Sri Lanka won on the final ball by two wickets. 84 off 46 not out for the all rounder as he sealed a series victory for the Sri Lankans.

Yasir Shah tons up in Adelaide – December 2019

I’m still speechless that Yasir Shah managed to do this. After conceding 197 runs with no wickets to back up for his 32 (mostly woeful) overs, Shah came in with Pakistan 6/89 in their first innings, trailing by 500 runs.

The leg spinner showed more fight with the bat than most of the Pakistan top seven, playing some beautiful shots en route to a maiden Test century. He would be dismissed eventually for 113 and then the Pakistanis were thrashed by an innings and 48 runs.

A victory no one saw coming – January 2021

19 January 2021 – a day Australia would like to forget and a day India will never forget. Chasing 328 for victory in the final Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, half centuries from Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant would see an injury ravaged India produce a stunning three wicket victory at the Gabba.

Australia hadn’t lost at the Gabba for over three decades only for a bunch of IPL kids to show zero respect to the past and win with some flair.

Just build a statue of his already – December 2021

With England trailing by 82 runs in the third Ashes Test, there was a sense that a target of 130 or so could send jitters down the Aussie camp in what had been a bowling friendly Test.

Then Scott Boland came to life, finishing with figures of 6/7 and becoming Australian cult hero no.1 as Australia won by an innings and 14 runs. England spent more days in quarantine at the Gold Coast (14) than they did losing the Ashes (12).

England giving us one last collapse – January 2022

Okay, this wasn’t really unexpected. But seriously, how do you go from a 68 run opening stand to being bowled out for 124 in a run chase of 271 on day three? Was fun to watch from an Australian perspective though. Arguably the most embarrassing moment in sport on Australian soil this year.

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