That edged past the 70.2 win percentage of Australia in 2007, when the team still included all-time greats Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden, with two matches remaining in 2019 – the first and second Tests against New Zealand in Perth and Melbourne.
The figures show the extent of Australia’s on-field recovery in the 18 months since the Cape Town ball-tampering incident, which plunged the team into crisis, enjoying success not only in retaining the Ashes in England for the first time since 2001 but in winning a one-day international series in India for the first time in a decade and sharply improving their T20 fortunes.
Australia’s win percentage in 2018 was only 35.7, having lost 25 out of 42 matches while the game was engulfed in turmoil. It is no surprise the other least successful year in recent times, by the same measurement, was in 2013, when the homework affair erupted in Mohali, coach Mickey Arthur was sacked and Australia won only 40.9 per cent of their matches.
While Pakistan proved meek opposition, Australia’s 2019 schedule included a World Cup and an Ashes series in England, the end of a difficult home Test campaign against Virat Kohli’s India and limited-overs series away to Pakistan and India. Crucially, they were without their best two batsmen, Steve Smith and David Warner, until they resumed international duty at the World Cup in June following 12-month suspensions.
It’s little wonder that, like in the days of Warne and McGrath, there was minimal discussion required for selectors about amending the Test line-up for the series against No.2-ranked New Zealand, which starts at Optus Stadium in Perth on Thursday week.
“It’s very nice and it’s nice to have a couple of very, very good wins. It’s been quite relaxing to be honest,” national selector Trevor Hohns said on Tuesday after naming a 13-man squad for the three Tests against the Black Caps, the only change being the omission of out-of-sorts back-up batsman Cameron Bancroft.
With a more demanding series against New Zealand to round out the year, Paine said he liked what he saw in Brisbane and Adelaide against Pakistan.
“I thought we played some really good cricket for pretty much all the series, barring some fielding,” Paine said.
“I thought the quality of our cricket was really good. I thought we’re starting to get the big contributions from our top order we’ve asked for for a little while, and I thought our bowlers in both Test matches were excellent to create as many chances as they did. Then to be able to back-up when we asked them to do a pretty big job here in Adelaide, bowl back-to-back innings, 160 or 170 overs and still be creating chances, I thought was an awesome effort.”
While Warner and Marnus Labuschagne took the major run-scoring baton from Smith against Pakistan, the Test attack of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon and the recalled Mitchell Starc will also head into the Black Caps series high on confidence.
AUSTRALIA WIN PERCENTAGE IN ALL FORMATS SINCE 2006
2006 Played 41 Won 31 Lost 9 Drew 0 NR 1 Tied 0 Win Percentage 75.6%
2007 Played 47 Won 33 Lost 12 Drew 0 NR 2 Tied 0 Win Percentage 70.2%
2008 Played 34 Won 19 Lost 10 Drew 4 NR 1 Tied 0 Win Percentage 55.9%
2009 Played 61 Won 33 Lost 22 Drew 3 NR 3 Tied 0 Win Percentage 54.1%
2010 Played 52 Won 32 Lost 17 Drew 1 NR 1 Tied 1 Win Percentage 61.5%
2011 Played 40 Won 24 Lost 13 Drew 2 NR 1 Tied 0 Win Percentage 60%
2012 Played 49 Won 25 Lost 18 Drew 3 NR 1 Tied 2 Win Percentage 51%
2013 Played 44 Won 18 Lost 20 Drew 2 NR 4 Tied 0 Win Percentage 40.9%
2014 Played 40 Won 27 Lost 12 Drew 1 NR 0 Tied 0 Win Percentage 67.5%
2015 Played 33 Won 23 Lost 7 Drew 2 NR 1 Tied 0 Win Percentage 69.7%
2016 Played 52 Won 28 Lost 22 Drew 1 NR 1 Tied 0 Win Percentage 53.8%
2017 Played 30 Won 13 Lost 14 Drew 1 NR 2 Tied 0 Win Percentage 43.3%
2018 Played 42 Won 15 Lost 25 Drew 1 NR 1 Tied 0 Win Percentage 35.7%
2019 Played 41 Won 29 Lost 9 Drew 2 NR 1 Tied 0 Win Percentage 70.7%
Chris Barrett is Sports Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.