The Australian Test calendar is fairly predictable: Brisbane opens the summer in November, Perth and Adelaide host the pre-Christmas Tests; Melbourne has the traditional Boxing Day Test while Sydney finishes the summer with the New Year’s “pink” Test.
Then there’s Hobart’s Bellerive Oval, usually given the sixth Test in non-Ashes or Indian summers.
Australia’s opening Test against the West Indies at Bellerive (now known as Blundstone Arena) will be the 12th in Tasmania since 1989. Australia has won eight, with two draws and one loss.
Australia v Sri Lanka, Dec 16-20, 1989. Australia won by 173 runs.
Back in 1989, Sri Lanka was still a fledgling Test nation and were competitive in the first Bellerive Oval Test. Leading by eight on first innings, Australia were struggling at 3/77. Captain Allan Border (85) joined Mark Taylor (108) for a 163 run stand. Steve Waugh (134 not out) and Dean Jones (118 not out) helped Australia to 5/513 declared. Merv Hughes (5/88) sealed a comfortable win.
Australia v New Zealand, Nov 26-29, 1993. Australia won by an innings and 222 runs.
Four years later, Tasmanian David Boon scored a special century. Boon (106) was joined by Michael Slater (168) and Mark Waugh (111) as Australia reached 6/554 declared. Shane Warne (9/67) and Tim May (7/110) ensured it was plenty.
Australia v Pakistan, Nov 17-20, 1995. Australia won by 155 runs.
Australia made it three straight at Bellerive in 1995. With a 69-run first innings lead, captain Mark Taylor’s 123 set Pakistan 376 with two days to bat. Glenn McGrath (5/61) and Paul Reiffel (3/42) dismissed Pakistan in 84 overs.
Australia v New Zealand, Nov 27-Dec 1, 1997. Match drawn.
Hobart hosted the final match of the 1997/98 Trans-Tasman series, which Australia had already won 2-0. Significant rain on days one and three ruined any chance of a result. Matthew Elliott (114), New Zealand’s Matt Horne (133), Greg Blewett (99) and Mark Waugh (81) made runs as New Zealand was set 288 at lunch on day five. New Zealand scored almost four an over, but Shane Warne’s 5/88 kept Australia safe.
Australia v Pakistan, Nov 18-22, 1999. Australia won by four wickets.
Arguably the iconic Hobart Test, Adam Gilchrist scored 149 not out as Australia chased 369, justifying Gilchrist’s inclusion ahead of veteran Ian Healy. Trailing by 24 runs on first innings, Pakistan made 392 (Inzamam-ul-Haq 118, Ijaz Ahmed 82, Saeed Anwar 78). At 5/126, Australia looked gone. Then Glichrist complied 238 with Justin Langer (127) to turn the game.
Australia v New Zealand, Nov 22-26, 2001. Match drawn.
In one of the closest Trans-Tasman series, the Hobart Test was ruined by rain. Tasmanian Ricky Ponting (157 not out) and Langer (123) pushed Australia to 8/558 declared by the end of day two. Rain meant the Black Caps’ 7/243 was spread over three days.
Australia v West Indies, Nov 17-21, 2005. Australia won by nine wickets.
By 2005, the once mighty West Indies were a rabble, losing this series 3-0. Chasing 149, openers Mike Hussey (137) and Matthew Hayden (110) complied 231 as Australia made 406. Trailing by 257, Dwayne Bravo’s 113 at least made Australia bat again.
Australia v Sri Lanka, Nov 16-20, 2007. Australia won by 96 runs.
Not even Kumar Sangakkara’s 192 could stop Australia cruising to an easy win. Phil Jaques (150) and Hussey (132) scored first innings centuries and Brett Lee took 4/82 as Sri Lanka was set 507 to win. Lee (4/87) and Mitchell Johnson (3/101) kept the chase under control, though Kumar was denied a double ton attempt, incorrectly given out off a pull shot.
Australia v Pakistan, Jan 14-18, 2010. Australia won by 231 runs.
After Pakistan’s dodgy surrender in Sydney, this Test smelt funny. Ponting (209) was dropped by Mohammad Amir early, a supposedly simple catch. Amir was banned after the spot fixing scandal in England later that year. The bowler, Mohammed Asif, was also banned for seven years for spot fixing in the same series. Set 438 to win, Pakistan was dismissed for 206 (Peter Siddle 3/25, Nathan Hauritz 3/30).
Australia v New Zealand, Dec 9-12, 2011. New Zealand won by seven runs.
Australia’s only Hobart loss came in 2011. Set 241 in a low-scoring, rain-affected match, David Warner showed he could be a Test opener with 123 not out. An extreme lack of support, and Doug Bracewell’s 6/40, ensured the historic Black Caps win.
Australia v Sri Lanka, Dec 14-18, 2012. Australia won by 137 runs.
Australia rebounded from the New Zealand upset to easily beat Sri Lanka. Leading by 114 on first innings, openers Warner (68) and Ed Cowan (56) complied 132 to set Sri Lanka 393. Mitchell Starc (5/63) and Peter Siddle (4/50) did the rest.