Australia’s Test side has an unfortunate track record of tripping at the final hurdle, and one damning statistic highlights a dire problem.
Australia’s Test side has an unfortunate track record of tripping at the final hurdle, and one damning statistic highlights a dire problem.

Aussie cricket plagued by worrying trend

There was an uncanny sense of deja vu for Australian cricket fans as Rishabh Pant slapped a full toss down the ground to secure an unlikely victory at the Gabba last week.

Earlier this month, India had snared a draw from the jaws of defeat after Australia's bowlers could not get the job done on day five at the SCG.

Rewind another 18 months, England's Ben Stokes pulled off a fourth innings miracle to leave the Australians shell-shocked at Headingley.

And who can forget Faf du Plessis' marathon at Adelaide Oval in 2012, where South Africa somehow escaped with a draw after surviving 148 overs in the fourth innings.

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Australia has an unfortunate track record of tripping at the final hurdle in Test match nailbiters, giving their opponents a reprieve on the last day.

 

Since 1980, Australia has been involved in 12 Test matches where the victor won by less than 20 runs.

Worryingly, Australia lost eleven of those close contests, with their lone victory being a 16-run win over Sri Lanka in 1992.

During that same 40-year period, Australia featured in four Tests where the result margin was one wicket, and the Aussies lost all of those games as well.

Australian cricketers don't seem capable of holding their nerve in the closing passages of a five-day match.

"We were here to win the series, but we have just been outplayed by a disciplined and tough Indian side who fully deserve the series win," Paine told reporters after last week's defeat.

"We have to look back over a lot of things, and we'll go through it as a group.

"Whether it was with bat, ball or field, every time we had a chance to go ahead in the game, we let it slip.

"We lost wickets when we tried to put foot down and couldn't quite get a partnership together. And I thought every-time India needed to (do) that, needed a wicket, somehow managed to do it, so again you got just to give them credit, they won the key moments."

 

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There have certainly been occasions when Australia didn't let a definite victory slip through their fingers.

Nathan Lyon's career-defining moment came in 2014 when he claimed seven wickets on the final day of an unforgettable Test against India at Adelaide Oval.

And Australia retained the Ashes in 2019 after a thrilling conclusion to the fourth Test at Old Trafford.

But more often than not, Australian cricket fans have been left heartbroken by a cataclysmic final day in the field, a worrying trend which has lasted for decades.

AUSTRALIAN RESULTS IN TEST MATCH NAILBITERS* SINCE 1980

Lost - 1 run vs West Indies, Adelaide (1993)

Lost - 2 runs vs England, Birmingham (2005)

Lost - 3 runs vs England, Melbourne (1982)

Lost - 5 runs vs South Africa, Sydney (1994)

Lost - 7 runs vs New Zealand, Hobart (2011)

Lost - 12 runs vs England, Melbourne (1998)

Lost - 13 runs vs India, Mumbai (2004)

Lost - 14 runs vs England, Nottingham (2013)

Won - 16 runs vs Sri Lanka, Colombo (1992)

Lost - 18 runs vs England, Leeds (1981)

Lost - 19 runs vs England, The Oval (1997)

Lost - 20 runs vs Bangladesh, Dhaka (2017)

Lost - 1 wicket vs West Indies, Bridgetown (1999)

Lost - 1 wicket vs India, Mohali (2010)

Lost - 1 wicket vs Pakistan, Karachi (1994)

Lost - 1 wicket vs England, Leeds (2019)

*Matches where victory margin was less than 20 runs or one wicket

 

Originally published as Aussie cricket plagued by worrying trend



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