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A look back at Australia’s past ODI drubbings


Australia_England_ODI_Cricket_problemsAustralia’s 242-run annihilation in the third ODI of their ongoing series against a marauding England at Trent Bridge was their biggest ever defeat in ODI history, and only their second by a margin of more than 200 runs. Needless to say, the Australians, known for their glittering ODI record, what with five World Cup titles to their name, would have found the ignominy of being at the receiving end of the highest ODI total a bitter pill to swallow.

As their ODI performance over the years shows, Australia have not suffered heavy defeats as frequently as other nations - a total of only 14 defeats by a margin of 100 runs or more attest to the fact. By contrast, Sri Lanka have had 44 such defeats, New Zealand 38, India and Pakistan 37 each, the West Indies 35 and England 26. Since the Trent Bridge reversal marked a rare instance, it is a good time to revisit Australia’s heaviest ODI defeats from the past.

Lost to New Zealand by 206 runs, Adelaide, 1985-86

Australia’s only other defeat by a margin of over 200 runs occurred more than 32 years ago. New Zealand failed to make it to the final of the triangular Benson and Hedges World Series Cup also involving India, having won only three out of ten games, but had the satisfaction of rolling the hosts over in their encounter at the Adelaide Oval. After winning the toss, New Zealand were given a solid platform by Bruce Edgar and John Wright, each of whom scored 61.

Captain Jeremy Coney belted a rapid 40 to further boost the total, which rose to a robust 276/7 from the allotted 50 overs. Australia began poorly, losing Geoff Marsh for a duck to Richard Hadlee off the second ball, and their situation worsened as the innings went on. The pace trio of Hadlee (3/14), Ewen Chatfield and Stu Gillespie reduced the score to 31/5, after which Australia never recovered, getting shot out for 70 (their joint lowest ODI total till date) in the 27th over.

Lost to South Africa by 196 runs, Cape Town, 2005-06

This was the second game of the five-match series that would culminate in the surreal 434 v 438 run-fest at Johannesburg. South Africa built on their 1-0 lead with a terrific all-round display that delighted the Newlands crowd and dealt a rare pasting to Ricky Ponting’s all-conquering Australians. Herschelle Gibbs (66) and Mark Boucher (42) rescued South Africa from the uncertainty of 95/3 after Graeme Smith won the toss, putting together 80 for the fourth wicket.

Justin Kemp (51*) and Shaun Pollock (38) kept the momentum going with a 62-run stand for the sixth wicket, propelling South Africa to 289/7. Thereafter, Makhaya Ntini stole the show with a sensational spell. The pace ace gobbled the first four wickets to leave Australia in tatters under the lights; the score reading a scarcely believable 7/4 in the tenth over. Australia’s agony ended at 93 in the 35th over, with Ntini returning figures of 6/22, then the best in ODIs for his country.

Lost to West Indies by 164 runs, Perth, 1986-87

This was the fifth league game of the quadrangular Benson and Hedges Challenge, played at the WACA in Perth as part of the 1987 America’s Cup Festival of Sport. Following defeats to Pakistan and England, both Australia and the West Indies were out of the reckoning for a spot in the final. Opener Gordon Greenidge set the tone after the West Indies were put in to bat, scoring 100 from 119 balls. Later, Michael Holding, coming in at 180/6, struck 53* from just 35 balls.

The innings terminated at 255/8, with pace bowler Simon O’Donnell taking four wickets, though he conceded 65 runs. In reply, the Australian top order was dismantled by the West Indian pace attack, and at 36/5, the result seemed a foregone conclusion. Only Steve Waugh reached double figures, scoring 29 before falling to Roger Harper’s off-spin. Tony Gray (3/9) was the pick of the bowlers, with Holding (3/32) not too far behind, as Australia were routed for 91 in the 36th over.

Lost to New Zealand by 159 runs, Auckland, 2015-16

New Zealand’s defence of the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy began in rousing fashion at Eden Park, as Australia imploded in a stiff chase. Steve Smith elected to field, but was perhaps left to rue the decision as Kiwi openers Martin Guptill and captain Brendon McCullum (44) put on 79 within 11 overs. Guptill smote a 76-ball 90 and shared a third-wicket partnership worth 100 with Henry Nicholls, who went on to score 61. These efforts carried New Zealand to a total of 307/8.

Matt Henry (3/41) removed Shaun Marsh and Smith in his first three overs, and from that point, there was no looking back for the hosts. Henry’s fellow pacer Trent Boult (3/38) added to the damage, and by the end of the ninth over, Australia were staring down the barrel at 41/6, having lost their last five wickets for eight runs. Matthew Wade and James Faulkner added 79 for the seventh wicket, but it was too late, as Australia crumbled for 148 with 25.4 overs remaining.

Lost to South Africa by 142 runs, Johannesburg, 2016-17

The second ODI of this five-match series saw South Africa outplay Australia in every aspect. The Proteas made merry after being asked to bat, with Quinton de Kock and Rilee Rossouw signalling their intentions by adding 70 for the opening wicket. Rossouw (75) and captain Faf du Plessis then shared another 76 for the second wicket, before the former’s dismissal paved the way for the biggest partnership of the innings - 150 between du Plessis and Jean-Paul Duminy.

While Duminy fell for 82 off just 58 balls, du Plessis surged to his century, scoring 111 in 93 balls. South Africa eventually piled up an imposing 361/6, and Australia’s chances further dimmed when the hard-hitting Aaron Finch was out to Kagiso Rabada in the second over. Despite half-centuries from David Warner (50) and Travis Head (51), Australia were never in the contest, and folded for 219 in the 38th over. South Africa clinically went on to win the series 5-0.

Lost to New Zealand by ten wickets, Wellington, 2006-07

Australia’s only ten-wicket defeat in ODIs thus far came at the hands of New Zealand in the first game of the 2006-07 Chappell-Hadlee Trophy at the Westpac Stadium. Having been put in to bat by Stephen Fleming, Australia, led by Michael Hussey in the absence of the rested Ricky Ponting, could only muster 148 from 49.3 overs. Hussey top-scored with 42, but found little support. The wrecker-in-chief was the fiery fast bowler Shane Bond, who collected 5/23.

New Zealand’s opening pair of Lou Vincent (73* from 87 balls) and Stephen Fleming (70* from 76) was enough to overhaul the modest total, securing victory with 23 overs to spare. New Zealand won the remaining two games in the series as well, and appeared to have emerged as genuine challengers to Australia for the 2007 World Cup that was to follow. However, Australia were ruthless at the showpiece event, cruising through unbeaten to win their third title in a row.


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Rustom Deboo is a cricket aficionado and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of T...

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