First One-Day International

Zimbabwe v England

Paul Kelso

At Harare, November 28, 2004. England won by five wickets. Toss: England. One-day international debuts: C. B. Mpofu; I. R. Bell, K. P. Pietersen.

Shortly before 9.30 a.m., Michael Vaughan finally led an England team on to a Zimbabwean cricket field, three years after their last series in the country and just over 21 months since the acrimonious cancellation of their previous scheduled appearance, in the 2003 World Cup. He had strongly intimated that any attempt to politicise this series would have led to the team's withdrawal; fortunately neither Robert Mugabe nor any of his government officials showed up. Instead, around 3,000 spectators, black and white, piled in and by mid-afternoon were contributing to a festival atmosphere. Sadly, the mismatch failed to justify local interest. England made three changes to the side that lost the Champions Trophy final at The Oval in September: in came Pietersen and Bell for their one-day debuts, along with Anderson, in place of the resting Flintoff and Trescothick and the conscientious objector Harmison. Zimbabwe, with an average age below 21 and missing all the rebel white players sacked by the board earlier in the year, gave a debut to fast bowler Christopher Mpofu, a willowy 19-year-old discovered at a township class in 2003 by former West Indies pace man Ian Bishop. After Zimbabwe were inserted by Vaughan on a slow surface, the most notable contribution was Chigumbura's 47-ball 52, which turned a perilous 90 for five into a respectable 195. A clean striker of the ball armed with a thumping drive, Chigumbura was tipped by Phil Simmons, Zimbabwe's coach, as a future "world-beater" in the short game. England's run-chase was built round a halfcentury for Bell, who became the fifth Englishman - after Chris Broad, Martyn Moxon, Kim Barnett and Trescothick - to record debut fifties in both Tests and one-day internationals. His 75 off 115 balls anchored the innings, and a stand of 111 with Vaughan took England to the brink of victory before a late wobble saw four wickets fall for 43. Pietersen eventually hit the winning runs, but not before running out Collingwood and twice almost doing the same to Jones.

Man of the Match: I. R. Bell.

© John Wisden & Co