Following a few months rest, Australia captain Michael Clarke said his team were fully recharged as they prepared to depart Sydney for their upcoming tour of Zimbabwe on Wednesday. In what may turn out to be a turning point for cricket in Zimbabwe, it has been revealed that Australia will be visiting the country to play a tri-nation series, which will be its first in almost a decade.
The series will involve Australia, South Africa and Zimbabwe themselves and will see each team playing a total of four games each in a round-robin format, reports cricket.com.au. Also the tournament will be sandwiched between Australia’s recent failed ICC World T20 2014 campaign in Bangladesh and their upcoming Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) later in October and promises to provide some relief to Zimbabwe who has been relegated to the second tier of cricketing nations.
Though all matches have been scheduled to be played at the Harare Sports Club, the first game between Australia and Zimbabwe has been set to be played at August 25. Prior to this series Zimbabwe is currently taking on South Africa in a one-off Test match in Harare before the two teams embark on a three-match ODI series in Bulawayo.
“We are really excited to have the opportunity to host two strong sides like Australia and South Africa at the same time,” said Zimbabwe Cricket managing director, Wilfred Mukondiwa. “Our players need the high-level competition the two teams will provide, and our fans will enjoy watching the matches,” added Mukondiwa.
Zimbabwe which has been plagued with problems of player strikes over non-payment of wages, will certainly heave a huge sigh of relief since the Test match against South Africa will be their first in almost two years, a fact which bodes well for the future of the game in the country.
The national cricket board has been submerged in monetary problems, with the authorities owing approximately around USD 15 million to a local bank. Cricket in Zimbabwe desperately needs a shot in the arm from the ICC in terms of finances and series’ such as the ones against Australia and South Africa will only go a long way in allaying such problems.
The last time that Australia toured Zimbabwe it was way back in 2004 when they clinched the three-match ODI series 3-0 and had current coach Darren Lehmann as their star performer. And for the record Australia and Zimbabwe had also clashed in the group stages of ICC World Cup 2011 in India and have not played a Test between them for 12 years.
Australia tour of Zimbabwe matches schedule:
First ODI, August 25: Zimbabwe vs Australia
Second ODI, August 27: South Africa vs Australia
Third ODI, August 29: Zimbabwe vs South Africa
Fourth ODI, August 31: Zimababwe vs Australia
Fifth ODI, September 2: South Africa vs Australia
Sixth ODI, September 4: Zimbabwe vs South Africa
September 6: Final