Australia 'A' hands Zimbabwe shattering defeat
In terms of match practice, it was good experience before its opening Carlton Series encounter against West Indies tomorrow. In terms of making any kind of contribution to team spirit or morale, it was a shocker. Zimbabwe has been beaten by a staggering 216 runs by Australia 'A' in a warm-up match at the start of its Australian tour at the 'Gabba ground in Brisbane tonight.
Even in these times of rampant Australian domination, it is hard to remember too many more convincing defeats in one-day matches involving touring sides in the recent past. The Zimbabweans were outplayed from the outset as Greg Blewett (131 off 122 balls), Simon Katich (80 off eighty-four) and Michael Slater (52 from forty-five) punished their attack. Medium pacer Adam Dale (4/31 from ten overs) and spinner Stuart MacGill (3/7 off five) then sparked a humiliating collapse that saw the tourists' last eight wickets fall for the addition of a paltry twenty-nine runs.
The Australia 'A' team, which is composed of a mixture of seasoned and up-and-coming one-day international hopefuls, had suffered a heavy defeat of its own earlier in the week against West Indies in Adelaide. But that form counted for little as it went on a rampage that delivered a total of 4/321 with the bat and then their rivals crashing down to a total of 105. The implications for Zimbabwe's prospects in the triangular tournament, even against a West Indian team that has been serially thrashed by Australia, can not be regarded as promising on the basis of this display.
The Zimbabweans, in their defence, were missing the rested Heath Streak, Grant Flower and Andy Flower. But not even their best three players could have made up this amount of leeway. Aside from paceman Travis Friend (1/25 from six overs) and off spinner Dirk Viljoen (1/39 off ten), their bowlers were wholly unimpressive and only rarely threatened to beat the bat. Insofar as it was possible, their batsmen acquitted themselves in even more disappointing style. Hopes of a reasonable chase were raised by Alistair Campbell (31) and Stuart Carlisle (29) as they pushed the score to 1/63 in the twelfth over but they were thoroughly shattered thereafter. Once Campbell fell - to a sensational diving catch in the gully by Matthew Hayden off the bowling of paceman Paul Wilson (2/49 off ten overs) - there was a complete lack of backbone in the strokeplay.
Deservedly, Blewett was named man of the match for his central role in the Zimbabweans' demise. With a free-flowing innings that stood in complete contrast in style to the gritty, match-saving double century that he produced for South Australia against Queensland in a Pura Cup match at this ground only three weeks ago, he offered a small crowd great entertainment.
The high point of his batting came in the middle stages of the Australia 'A' innings when he plundered three sixes in the space of five deliveries from paceman Bryan Strang (0/61 from seven overs) to race toward three figures. He added another two sixes and nine thumping boundaries as the entire attack suffered at his hands. Western Australian Katich also forced the Zimbabweans to suffer with clever shotmaking and skilled placement as he played a junior, but by no means insignificant, role in the cracking stand of 167 runs that he and his right handed partner compiled for the second Australia 'A' wicket.