The New Year’s Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground has been a permanent fixture on the international cricket calendar since 1991 (aside from a break in 1996-97), becoming one of the most treasured events in Australian sport thanks to bumper holiday crowds and many, many classic contests.
The first CBS Top 5 of 2018 relives the greatest SCG Tests of the past 25 years.
5. 2004 – Australia drew with India
Australia and India produced the fifth-highest match aggregate in Test history – and the most in 35 years – courtesy of a New Year’s batting-fest in 2004, tallying an incredible 1747 runs over five days. India became just the ninth team ever to post over 700 runs in an innings, declaring at 7/705 after a 353-run stand by Sachin Tendulkar (241 not out) and VVS Laxman (178). The weary hosts responded admirably with 474 – featuring centuries by Justin Langer and Simon Katich – while Indian spin great Anil Kumble took 8/141.
India declared again at 2/211, with Tendulkar starring once more with 60 not out and Rahul Dravid smashing an unbeaten 91, to set Australia a victory target of 443 with just over a day to play. The star-studded Australian side survived, ending the final day on 6/357 largely thanks to a brave 142-run partnership by captain Steve Waugh (80) and No.6 Katich (77 not out). Kumble took another four wickets for a match haul of 12, Tendulkar was named man-of-the-match, but both sides were lauded for their contribution to one of the finest draws of the modern era – a result that saw the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series shared 1-all.
4. 2010 – Australia defeated Pakistan by 36 runs
Australia crafted an extraordinary comeback win over the underdog Pakistan tourists in 2010 after being rolled for 127 in the first innings. A withering opening spell by Mohammad Sami reduced Australia to 3/10, before Mohammad Asif took over with 6/41. Opener Salmam Butt top-scored with 71 as Pakistan built a 206-run first-innings lead, but Shane Watson’s 97 and a magnificent 134 not out from Michael Hussey in the hosts’ 381 kept them in the hunt. Set just 176 for an upset win, Pakistan crumbled to be 139 all out after looking relatively comfortable at 3/77. The last four wickets fell for just six runs as spinner Nathan Hauritz snared 5/53.
3. 1999 – Australia defeated England by 98 runs
Australia clinched a 3-1 Ashes series success with a thrilling victory in the fifth and final Test against their old foes. Twins Mark (121) and Steve Waugh (96) combined in a 190-run partnership that underpinned the home side’s first-innings total of 322, while Stuart MacGill’s 5/57 helped skittle England for just 220. But the tourists, brimming from a 12-run triumph in the Boxing Day Test that kept the series alive, dismissed Australia for just 184 in their second dig – despite Michael Slater’s sizzling 123.
Slater’s knock represented the highest percentage of a team’s runs in a completed innings since fellow Australian Charles Bannerman’s 165 not out in a team total of 245 in the first-ever Test against England in 1877. Set 287 for a series-levelling win, England started strongly but folded for 188 as MacGill overshadowed superstar teammate Shane Warne once again with 7/50.
2. 2008 – Australia defeated India by 122 runs
Marked by a string of controversial umpiring decisions and the ‘Monkeygate’ blow-up between fiery Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds and combative Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh, the Border-Gavaskar Trophy rivalry has never been the same since Australia’s series-sealing win with just minutes to spare at the SCG in 2008. Symonds hammered 162 not out in the hosts’ first-innings total of 463, but India replied with 532 after centuries by Laxman and Tendulkar. Australia reached 401 in their second dig as Matt Hayden and Michael Hussey brought up triple figures to set a target of 333 for the Indians, who crumbled for 210 as they scrapped for survival on the fifth day. Michael Clarke enjoyed one of his most memorable days, taking the final three wickets in one unforgettable over to win the Test and the series with time almost up.
1. 1994 – South Africa defeated Australia by 5 runs
The bowlers dominated a phenomenal SCG Test between heavyweights South Africa and Australia in 1994. The Proteas succumbed for just 169 in the first innings as Shane Warne (7/56) went ballistic, while the Aussies took a commanding first-innings lead by making 292, Michael Slater top-scoring with 92. Victory seemed assured for the home side when South Africa was bowled out 239 in their second innings; Jonty Rhodes made 76 not out, but Warne grabbed five-for to finish with 12 scalps for the match.
Chasing a modest target of 117, however, Australia endured a shocking collapse from 1/51 to be 111 all out. Craig McDermott, coming in at No.10, was the top scorer with 29 not out, while the rest of the Australian batting order had few answers for man-of-the-match Fanie de Villiers, who took 6/43. It was the fourth-narrowest win in Test history at the time in terms of runs, although Australia restored pride with a 191-run win in Adelaide to draw the series.