Wishart and Streak defy Western Australia at Perth
Close Zimbabwe 254 for 7 (Wishart 93*, Streak 45*, Wilson 2-36, Angel 2-63)
Zimbabwe, driven by a commanding and unbeaten innings of 93 from Craig Wishart, were 254 for 7 at stumps after a testing first day of their three-day match against Western Australia at Perth.
Wishart has not played Test cricket since the Sri Lankan series in January 2001, but he will be among the first picked for next week's first Test against Australia, also at the WACA. It was a long, hard struggle for Wishart, who came to the wicket when the Zimbabweans were 65 for 3, having recovered from 20 for 2 after eight overs with openers Dion Ebrahim and Trevor Gripper back in the pavilion.
Zimbabwe had been asked to bat first after Mike Hussey won the toss. It proved a torrid introduction to the famous WACA pitch, with its extra pace and bounce. The wicket, greener than usual, caused some disconcerting moments for the batsmen. and Paul Wilson (2 for 36), Jo Angel (2 for 63), Darren Wates (2 for 76) and Peter Worthington (0 for 29) all had their moments. Wates and Worthington were the pick of the attack early in the day, while Mark Hussey was able to skid the ball through later on to concede only 10 runs from 11 overs. He also took the wicket of Sean Ervine.
Despite the best efforts of the Western Australia attack, Wishart stood firm in what was a chanceless innings. The loss of Mark Vermeulen, who had looked the best of the other top-order batsmen in compiling 38 in 92 minutes, made it even more crucial that Wishart graft his way through the remainder of the day.
Craig Evans helped Wishart get the side through to lunch at 89 for four, but three balls after the break, he was back in the pavilion. His dismissal was the result of a sharply rising ball that caught the bat handle and flew behind the wicket for Ryan Campbell, the wicketkeeper, to take an easy catch.
Tatenda Taibu joined Wishart, and the pair added 60 runs before the Western Australians got their next breakthrough. Ervine stuck around to add 25 runs with Wishart before falling, and Wishart was then joined by Heath Streak, his captain. They took play through until the scheduled close, posting another 80 runs along the way. By the end of the day, Wishart had spent 279 minutes at the crease.
Streak proved marvellous support, ending on 45 not out in just under two hours of batting. Western Australia, who only let two chances drop on the day - a first-ball chance off Stuart Carlisle that was dropped at second slip by Marcus North, and a chance off Streak - managed to get through 95 overs of bowling. Wishart has scored 10 first-class centuries, and he will no doubt be looking forward to the seven runs that will give him his 11th hundred.