Struggling Zim face Australia


Itai Dzamara

ZIMBABWE returns to cricket action with a maiden tour to world champions Australia in October.


Th

e team, currently undergoing a rebuilding exercise, suffered back-to-back innings defeats in two Tests against England and all their one-day matches.


The historic two-match series against Australia will be played in October with the first Test in Perth from October 9 to 13 and the second in Sydney from October 17 to 21.


Zimbabwe will also join Australia and India in a one-day series in the first two months of 2004 after those teams have played two Tests.


If the tour to England was a disaster, then the expedition down under should be a living nightmare for captain Heath Streak and his troops. There is really nothing that suggests Zimbabwe can beat Australia. There is a huge gulf in depth and experience between the two sides.


Streak is however hoping for better fortunes for his team, which is reconfiguring after the departure of experienced players.


“We have to use the tour of Australia to improve on our shortcomings and inspire the young players in the team,” said Streak.


“We are a young team undergoing a rebuilding exercise and I think people must remember that other countries also went through some rebuilding and be patient with us.”


With the departure of world-renowned batsman, Andrew Flower and fast bowler Henry Olonga among other veterans over the last two years, Zimbabwe have tried to gel experience and youth in the Test side. There is hope in Zimbabwe Cricket Union’s Player of the Year, Andy Blignaut, Dion Ebrahim, Raymond Price and Tatenda Taibu who have amassed experience on the road and during the last World Cup.


Before the departure to Australia, Zimbabwean players on the fringes of Test selection travel to Namibia for three one-day bashes and two first class matches in two weeks time. The Zimbabwe A team returns home to play the West Indies at the end of October.


Meanwhile, the 2003/2004 Logan Cup cricket competition will kick-off on September 12.


Manicaland will open their campaign with a match against Mashonaland in Mutare while Matabeleland will host Midlands at Queens Sports Club.