Pool A - 2003 World Cup

Zimbabwe v Australia

At Bulawayo, February 24, 2003. Australia won by seven wickets. Toss: Zimbabwe.

This should have been one of Zimbabwean cricket's greatest occasions but politics dominated the game. The selectors tried to drop Andy Flower for "not trying" against India until his team-mates threatened to boycott the match; Olonga remained out of the side, although spectators sang his favourite song in a show of solidarity. The information secretary of the ruling Zanu-PF party bizarrely announced, "Olonga is not a Zimbabwean, he is a Zambian. Flower is also not a Zimbabwean. He is British." On the pitch, Flower somehow put the machinations to one side and top-scored with 62, before being bamboozled by Hogg's flipper. Blignaut then launched into Gillespie and Hogg, crashing eight fours and two sixes in a blistering 28-ball 54, as Zimbabwe stood up to Australia. In reply, a smash-and grab fifty from Gilchrist, part of a rapid opening stand of 89, removed any pressure. Martyn and Lehmann cantered home and Australia made a swift exit from Bulawayo - and a game they had been urged to boycott. The English umpire Peter Willey was originally due to stand in this match, with Neil Mallender as third umpire, but both withdrew because they were unwilling to visit Zimbabwe.

Man of the Match: A. M. Blignaut. Attendance: 5,000.

© John Wisden & Co