Michael Clarke (left) © Getty Images
Michael Clarke (left) called the performance unacceptable © Getty Images

Australia suffered a huge 356-run loss to Pakistan in the second Test at Abu Dhabi, thereby losing a Test series to the Asian side for the first time in 20 years. Devarchit Varma says this defeat not only derails their progress in Test cricket, but may also have long-lasting effects on the Australian side.

So, the annihilation is over. Pakistan bounced back from defeats in the One-Day International (ODI) and T20I series and caned Australia in a way that will rarely be forgotten. Defeats in two consecutive Tests by a margin of 221 runs and 356 runs means that Darren Lehmann, Michael Clarke, and company will be shaken to the core. Most importantly, there will now be many doubts that will surface in their minds as well as outside the camp, as to whether the Australians can really compete on the tracks that do not support pace bowling. And these questions, these doubts, could be long-lasting.

The very fact that Australia had more than six months to prepare and still ended up losing so severely would raise questions. But where can Australia look for the answers? They have tried innumerable cricketers of varied qualities and skills to help them maintain some standards, but unfortunately the results have not been encouraging.

The legend of Shane Warne that could have inspired generations in Australia to take up spin bowling sadly diminishes. With Steve O’Keefe, the number of spinners capped by Australia since Warne’s retirement went up to 13. One of the main reasons non-Asian teams do not win in the subcontinent is because they do not have quality spinners in their ranks, and Australia are no different.

Unless a team has the capability to win in all situations and conditions, it can’t be called the best in the world. England received flak a few months after becoming the world No. 1 in 2011 because they succumbed to similar treatment from Pakistan in this part of the world. Back then they had Graeme Swann, but were still flummoxed. Australia are no longer the No. 1 side, and they can continue boasting of an excellent fast bowling arsenal, but they are far from being competitive in tough conditions like these.

Not everyone would be a Matthew Hayden who would practise endlessly for months before a tour to the subcontinent to get a sweep-shot right, and then execute it perfectly over a series to help his side win. Australia might not be blessed with such players anymore, but part of their predicament was their own fault. To select an explosive all-rounder to bat at No. 3 just because he had smashed a couple of slow bowlers in the slam-bang Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament was a daft move. Clarke and Lehmann got it wrong by selecting Glenn Maxwell ahead of Alex Doolan, and in process hurting the confidence of the young batsman.

Australia cannot look any further than the current set of players to get them desired results. They also cannot blame themselves for being over-ambitious by hiring Muttiah Muralitharan in the support staff in a bid to get better at spin.

After all, they gave themselves the best shot at winning yet another series. They failed because they have a bowling attack that can terrorise even the best in the world — but only in conditions conducive to pace. The same ferocious arsenal misfires on benign, spin-friendly tracks. They failed because they still do not have a quality spinner that can win them series single-handedly. They failed because they have good, but not great, players. At the end of the day, cricket is all about a test of character, and unfortunately this Australian performance perfectly describes Michael Clarke’s ‘unacceptable.’

Australia can go back home and soon immerse themselves into the preparations for ICC World Cup 2015. They even get an opportunity to set their Test records right when the series against India starts from December 4. But must they remember, for their own good, that this humiliation would haunt them for years to come, especially when they will visit these parts to play Test cricket.

Complete coverage of Pakistan vs Australia 2014 in UAE

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)