India’s Test Tour of Australia: Top 5 Controversies

India’s Test Tour of Australia: Top 5 Controversies

Indian team is all set to take on Australia in the much-anticipated Border Gavaskar Trophy. The visitors got back their form in the T20I series and won it convincingly. No wonder, they must be charged up to face the hosts Down Under. From the second Test match, Indians will be without their regular captain Virat Kohli.

On the other hand, Steve Smith’s participation in the first Test seems to be dicey. In such a scenario, the Indian team would like to take the full advantage and win the first match at Adelaide. A lead in such an important series would help them in the remaining games.

Both teams will play a pink-ball Test from December 17 followed by the Boxing Day Test match at Melbourne. Sydney and Brisbane will be hosting the last two matches as the tour would be concluded on January 19.

Since the first time India travelled to Australia back in 1947 to play Test cricket, both teams have been part of many controversies that shook the cricket world from time to time. Whereas there are numbers of such infamous incidents, we are listing just five of them on the Australian soil.


Just months after the independence, the Indian team led by Lala Amarnath went to Australia to face Don Bradman’s Australia for the very first time. During the second Test of the tour at Sydney Indian all-rounder, Vinoo Mankad became a part of one never-ending controversy of world cricket that gave birth to a term called ‘Mankading’.

The Test ended in a draw, but the way Australia lost the first wicket, it eventually became a saga. Mankad ran out Bill Brown when, in the act of delivering the ball, he held on to it and removed the bails with Brown well out of his crease. This was the second time he did the same with Brown. Earlier he had warned Brown, but this time he didn’t wait before running him out.

This act was termed as ‘Mankading’, and Vinoo Mankad was criticized for this ‘unsportsmanlike’ attitude. This act of running out has been practised in many occasions. Whereas many experts are against this like Sunil Gavaskar who thinks this should be scrapped from international cricket, a huge part is okay with the same citing cricket rules.

Walk Out

In the 1981 series between Australia and India, the Indian team was already under pressure after losing the first Test at Sydney in three days and somehow managing a draw in the second one at Adelaide. During the third Test match at Melbourne, Sunil Gavaskar was on 70 when a Dennis Lillee in-cutter caught the attention of umpire Rex Whitehead who was standing in just his third Test match and raised a finger.

Gavaskar stood in shock and protested as according to him, the ball had touched his bat before hitting the pad. Rex already was in the news for giving some poor decisions against the visitors during the entire series. Lillee showed his happiness with some gestures and indecent words which fueled Gavaskar further.

On receiving a negative response from the umpire, he walked out of the ground taking his partner Chetan Chowhan along with him. At the boundary line Indian team manager Shahid Durrani and the assistant manager, Bapu Nadkarni took the initiative to calm the batsmen down.

Chetan Chowhan returned to the ground to resume his innings. Not just the Australian media, later the team managers also criticized this act by Gavaskar. Recently at many occasions, Sunil Gavaskar regretted his act of dissent at Melbourne.

Shoulder Before Wicket

When a batsman doesn’t offer a shot and tackles the ball using the leg, the umpire gives the fielding side a certain amount of benefit believing that the ball would have hit the wicket and gives LBW. During the Adelaide Test in the 1999-2000 series in Australia, a similar leg before wicket was given against Sachin Tendulkar by the umpire Daryl Harper.

However, in this case, it was far from the leg before wicket. Tendulkar was ducking Glenn McGrath’s delivery, and the ball hit him at a far higher position. But Harper raised his finger. That dismissal became famous as ‘shoulder before wicket’. It was an error of judgement by Tendulkar regarding the height of the ball but no way it satisfied the criteria for LBW.

Later Harper went on saying that out of the decisions he gave, “I would like the world to forget is the Sachin one”. Sachin Tendulkar was out on 0 as India collapsed to 27 for 4 and eventually lost the match by 285 runs.


Ever since Sourav Ganguly made Steve Waugh wait during toss at Eden in 2001, the controversy became a regular part of India Australia battles on the crease. When India played against Australia at Sydney in 2008, the controversy reached a new feat.

The cold war between India and Australia became quite evident. It all began with some questionable umpiring decisions, and then Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds went into racism controversy that threatened to affect relations between these two countries. Tendulkar was in the ’80s when Harbhajan Singh joined him. Singh was irritated by the sledging of Andrew Symonds.

Tendulkar asked Singh not to react. But after crossing his individual 50 during a heated argument, Harbhajan Singh lost his calm. He allegedly called Andrew Symonds, the only colored cricketer of Australian cricket team, ‘Monkey’.

Post the match Harbhajan Singh was banned for three Tests. But after the hearing, the racism charge wasn’t proved, and the ban was lifted. Harbhajan Singh was charged 50% of the match fees.

“Only one team was playing cricket.”

During the same Test match infamous for monkeygate incident, the behaviour of the Australian cricket team disappointed the whole cricket world. BCCI made an official complaint about incompetent umpiring.

On the 5th day of the match, Australia declared just before the lunch giving India an improbable target of 333 runs in just over two sessions. For India, the key was to survive. India lost three quick wickets including VVS Laxman and Tendulkar with just 54 on the board, although one of those was on a No-ball. Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly batted together for more than 15 overs to add 61 runs in the total. Then the umpiring reached its nadir.

Dravid was given out caught behind in the bowling of Symonds when his bat was nowhere close to the ball. Few overs later Ganguly was given out caught in the slip when the catch by Michael Clarke was not at all conclusive, but instead of checking with the third umpire, umpire Mark Benson checked with Ricky Ponting, the Australian captain on the legality of the catch and gave out.

India collapsed at the last moment and got all out with just nine minutes of play remaining. Later in the post match press session a visibly upset Indian captain Anil Kumble asked question on Australian team’s integrity and mentioned “Only one team was playing with the spirit of the game, that’s all I can say,” a statement very close to what the Australian captain Bill Woodfull supposedly told Plum Warner, the England team manager, during the infamous Bodyline series.

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