Is Pakistan-West Indies worst summer schedule of all time? How this season stacks up against the stinkers of the past

Cricket Australia is trying its hardest to get fans through the gate and TV viewers to switch onto the five Tests this summer but it’s going to be arguably the toughest sell they’ve ever faced.

Since the advent of two nations touring to play Tests in 1978-79, this summer’s program of three matches against Pakistan followed by a second two-game contest with the West Indies in as many years shapes as the biggest mismatch. 

There have been 23 summers with dual touring teams since that Ashes series when Australia were weakened by World Series Cricket departures and copped a 5-1 hammering before squaring a two-match series with Pakistan with a young left-hander from NSW called Allan Border stepping up for the home side.

Oddly enough, in the first 10 times when two countries toured, Australia lost at least one Test. They have been stronger over the past 25 years but there seemed to be fewer lopsided series when there weren’t as many teams playing Test cricket.

In a bad omen for Pakistan leading into Thursday’s opening match at Perth, they have been on the receiving end on each of the three times when Australia have won every match on their home schedule against dual opponents.

The first instance was in 1999-2000 when Steve Waugh’s team swept Pakistan and India in three-match contests, five years later when Ricky Ponting led the Aussies to 2-0 and 3-0 shellackings of New Zealand and Pakistan and four years ago when Pakistan lost their two Tests and the Black Caps did likewise in their three outings.

There have been seven other occasions when Australia went through the summer undefeated in Tests with rain or the opposition’s defiance forcing at least one draw.

In 1987-88 when they beat New Zealand 1-0 in a three-match series, drew with England in the Bicentenary Test and conquered Sri Lanka in a one-off fixture.

Ten years later in 1997-98 when the Kiwis went down 2-0 over three matches and then the Proteas forced two draws but lost 1-0.

The summer of 2001-02 when NZ played out three draws before the Proteas were pumped 3-0.

2005-06: Australia knocked off the ICC World XI in the one-off Test experiment, downed the Windies 3-0 but then had to settle for a 2-0 victory over South Africa after a drawn first encounter at the WACA when Brad Hodge scored a double ton.

Steve Smith admits his World Cup and Ashes returns were ‘below my standards’, but is feeling good ahead of the Test summer #AUSvPAK

— (@cricketcomau) December 13, 2023

2009-10: The West Indies managed a draw but lost their other two matches before Australia swept Pakistan 3-0.

2015-16: Both the Black Caps and Windies registered a draw but lost their other two Tests respectively.  

And last season, 2022-23, when the Windies didn’t put up much of an effort in two Tests before South Africa avoided a three-match sweep when rain reared its ugly head again in Sydney.

There have also been a few mismatch summers when just one team has arrived Down Under – the Windies were belted 5-0 in 2000-01, while England suffered the same fate in 2006-07 and 2013-14 while narrowly avoiding a whitewash with 4-0 floggings in 2017-18 and 2021-22.

If you believe in miracles or think Australia are no certainties to win at Optus Stadium this week, the Pakistan side is listed as a $7 outsider in PlayUp’s First Test market and the draw is considered nearly as unlikely at $6.75. Australia are almost prohibitive favourites at $1.25.

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