On the eve of the first ever World Test Championship final, here is a brief summary of the five greatest test series of all time. By a coincidence, all five series feature Australia:
1. Australia 3-2 England, 1936-37
For the only time in Test history, a team came from 2-0 down to win. Australia, the victors, had Don Bradman in their ranks. After Gubby Allen’s England had won at Brisbane and Sydney, Bradman scored 270 at Melbourne, 212 at Adelaide and 169 in the final test, again at Melbourne. England had no reply.
2. India 2-1 Australia 2000-01
Steve Waugh’s Australia won by 10 wickets at Mumbai, their 16th Test victory on the trot. Then they made India follow on at Kolkata, But VVS Laxman scored an epic 281 and Rahul Dravid 180. Harbhajan Singh took six wickets in the Aussies second innings as Australia lost the test. India then won the decider by 2 wickets in Chennai.
3. Australia 2-1 West Indies, 1960-61
This unforgettable series began with the first tied game ever in test cricket, at Brisbane. Australia won the second Test, and West Indies the third, before Frank Worrell’s team was denied victory in the fourth when Australian No 11 Lindsay Kline hung on at Adelaide for almost two hours. Australia then chased down 258 to win the last test at Melbourne by two wickets. As they left for home, the West Indians were seen off with a ticker-tape parade through the city’s streets.
4. England 2-1 Australia, 2005
England were thrashed by 239 runs in the first test at Lord’s, as Glenn McGrath tore through the English ranks. An injury to Glenn’s ankle between the first and second tests helped England. They won by two runs at Edgbaston, aided by Andrew Flintoff’s heroics with bat and ball. Australia clung on for a draw at Old Trafford, after a final-day classic from Ricky Ponting. England enforced the follow-on at Trent Bridge and almost lost, losing seven wickets while chasing 129, before Matthew Hoggard and Ashley Giles took them home. Then Kevin Pietersen scored his first test century on the final day at the Oval to secure a draw. England thus won back the Ashes after eighteen years. Their previous triumph over Australia had come in 1986-1987.
5. India 2-1 Australia 2020-21
India were up against it when Australia crushed them in the first test. They were skittled out for their lowest ever test score of 36 at Adelaide. To make matters worse, the skipper Virat Kohli went on paternity leave. In addition, the team was beset with injuries, as their entire frontline bowling lineup. Shami, Bumrah, Ashwin and Jadeja got injured and were out of the team by the beginning of the last test. Only Pujara and Rahane played all four tests. A brilliant century at Melbourne by captain Rahane helped India win the Boxing Day Test by eight wickets. There was a heroic rear-guard action, reminiscent of Horatius at the bridge, on the last day of the third test at Sydney. Ashwin and Vihari survived over 40 extremely hostile overs from the Australians to salvage a draw. Then came the climax at Brisbane, when India successfully chased down 328 to win on an astonishing final day at at the Gabba. Rishabh Pant scored an unbeaten 89 as India raced to victory in the last session. It was Australia’s first test defeat at Brisbane since 1988. It was an unbelievable series win, defying all odds. The 2020-21 Border-Gavaskar Trophy contest between India and Australia was on Tuesday adjudged as the ”Ultimate Test Series” by International Cricket Council (ICC). Over 70 lakh people voted to make the recently concluded India vs Australia series the Ultimate Test Series. India vs Pakistan series of 1999 came second in this uniquely organized competition.
By Paramdeep Rathee