Zimbabwe in Australia 2003-04 September 28, 2003

Zimbabwe struggle in tour opener

Wisden CricInfo staff

Close Rockingham-Mandurah 52 for 3 (Voges 7*, Whisson 7*) trail Zimbabweans 149 by 97 runs

Sean Ervine saved his side's blushes with a belligerent 41 and two early wickets, but Zimbabwe were made to struggle on the opening day of their tour match against the grade cricketers of Rockingham-Mandurah, whose ranks had been swelled by the presence of seven Western Australia state players.

Andy Blignaut was the only major omission from a virtually full-strength team, but in gale-force winds and on a lively wicket, Zimbabwe were quickly reduced to 36 for 4, then 85 for 7 as the new-ball bowlers Darren Wates (4 for 22) and Tim Gilbert (3 for 35) exploited the conditions to perfection. But Ervine came in at No. 8 and with determined support from Ray Price, he pushed the total along to a moderately competitive 149.

The absence of Grant Flower, who broke his right thumb in a Logan Cup match last month, was keenly felt by the Zimbabweans. Without his experience, there is nobody in the touring squad who averages more than 28 in Tests, and their batsmen have managed just two Test centuries between them - both against Bangladesh. The first Test begins at the WACA in Perth on Thursday week, and on this evidence it is unlikely to be much of a contest.

The day did end on a brighter note for the Zimbabweans. Doug Hondo, who is playing in this match purely as a bowler, dismissed Rockingham-Mandurah's captain Craig Simmons for a duck, before Ervine chipped in with two timely wickets, including Scott Meuleman for 29. Heath Streak, Zimbabwe's captain and main source of experience for the Tests, was wicketless in his eight overs.

Rockingham-Mandurah Craig Simmons (capt), Tim Gilbert, Steven Glew, Aaron Heal, Scott Meuleman, Luke Ronchi, Phillip Scott, John Taylor, Adam Voges, Darren Wates, Corey Whisson.

Zimbabwe Heath Streak (capt), Tatenda Taibu, Andy Blignaut, Stuart Carlisle, Dion Ebrahim, Sean Ervine, Craig Evans, Trevor Gripper, Douglas Hondo, Raymond Price, Mark Vermeulen, Craig Wishart.