Zimbabwe's loss is Western Australia's gain May 17, 2004

Sean Ervine begins a new life

Wisden Cricinfo staff

A new start: Sean Ervine chats with his partner Melissa Marsh in Perth © AFP
On the day that Australia begins one of the least appetising Test tours ever undertaken, Sean Ervine begins the rest of his cricketing life. Ervine, a flamboyant 21-year-old who in an apolitical world would be one of the first Zimbabweans picked, will instead meet with West Australian cricket officials today to discuss his prospects for the next year - and maybe beyond.

Ervine flew out of Harare on the same night the Australians flew in. Now in Perth, he has declared his Zimbabwean career over and is entertaining vague ambitions of one day wearing the baggy green.

"It has crossed my mind," he admitted, "but that is quite a long way away. You have to get through the four years of becoming a citizen and prove yourself as a cricketer. If it comes one day, I'll be happy."

Ervine looks every inch a strapping, fair-dinkum Aussie on the front page of The Australian newspaper today. Blond and beaming, wearing a T-shirt and jeans, he is pictured cuddling his comparably fair-haired, toothy and striking girlfriend Melissa Marsh, daughter of the soon-to-be former Zimbabwe coach Geoff Marsh.

"With Melissa here," he told the paper, "it made my decision much easier."

Ervine agreed with the Australian team's decision to go ahead with the tour, saying it would raise awareness of Zimbabwe cricket's ills, but warned "I wouldn't say it would be any better any time quickly ... The ICC should have come into it and done a bit more."

A combative right-arm swing bowler and lower-order bat, Ervine would be an obvious asset to a WA side short on spark which last won the domestic competition in 1998-99 when it was still called the Sheffield Shield - an excruciating drought by modern western standards. He averages 32 with the bat and 43 with the ball in his five Tests. He was one of the less traumatised witnesses to Matthew Hayden's record runfest at the WACA last October, emerging with four wickets, a half-century and his reputation enhanced.

There are new reports, meanwhile, that Australia's planned two-Test tour of Zimbabwe might yet become a one-Test tour. In the face of growing farce, officials from both countries have reportedly discussed scrapping the second Test scheduled for Bulawayo and replacing it with two one-dayers; a mild relief for some Australian fans and perhaps players, hopelessly irrelevant for Sean Ervine.