Zimbabwe XI v Australia A, Harare, 1st day July 15, 2011

Spinners put Australia A on top


Zimbabwe XI 206 for 6 (Sibanda 91, Krejza 3-24) v Australia A

Zimbabwe XI ground their way to 206 for 6 on an attritional first day against Australia A at the Country Club in Harare. Vusi Sibanda's patient 91 held the Zimbabwean top order together before Australia's spinners struck repeatedly in the afternoon to dent the hosts' gains. Jason Krejza and Michael Beer shared four scalps after the three frontline seamers had been frugal but wicketless.

Sibanda, in charge of the team in the absence of Brendan Taylor, who is out of action after undergoing nasal surgery, put together an opening stand of 117 with Tino Mawoyo, both batsmen digging in with limpet-like tenacity to see off the new ball. The ability to play long innings against quality opposition is a skill that Zimbabwe's budding Test batsmen desperately need to master and survival, rather than dominance, was clearly their goal in the morning as Mawoyo crawled along at less than half of his career first-class strike-rate in a 177-ball 39.

The tactic did work to deny Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle and Trent Copeland any entry to a potentially fragile middle order, and it was not until the 55th over of the day that Beer finally broke the stand, sneaking one past Mawoyo's bat to have him stumped by Tim Paine. Hamilton Masakadza's entry briefly lifted the tempo, but when he was run out for 12 - a fate that befalls Sibanda's partners with worrying frequency - Australia began to chip away at the middle order.

Sibanda gained in fluency and confidence as he neared a century, but fell nine runs short of the mark when he presented Siddle with a catch off the impressive Krejza. Regis Chakabva and Craig Ervine's fourth-wicket partnership was just beginning to show promise when Krejza struck again, bowling Chakabva for a patient 28 shortly after the score had passed 200.

With minutes to go before the close, a couple of quick wickets put Australia firmly on top. Allrounder Keegan Meth fell to Krejza for a duck and Ervine was then prised out by medium-pacer Mitchell Marsh as Zimbabwe XI slipped to 205 for 6. Former national captain Elton Chigumbura and Malcolm Waller held firm until the close but there isn't a great deal of batting to come and the Zimbabweans will hope that Chigumbura can replicate his form from the two-day match at Kwekwe, where he boosted the total with a bellicose 95, as they push for a respectable first-innings total.

Liam Brickhill is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on July 18, 2011, 23:49 GMT

    Good knock from Chigumbra saved Zim from an innings defeat. Zim can take a fair bit from this match. I liked the application the batsmen showed, I think that is a result of a surprisingly good 1st class domestic scene. Their bowling will be better once Price & Utseya come in - their batting should improve with Taylor & Taibu. -- -- -- For Oz, I think Copeland showed that he is worth a look. He got wickets in the 2nd innings & his 1st innings was very scroogey. I think Krezja is ahead of Beer in the spin pecking order (personally I'd have Hauritz, O'Keefe & Lyon ahead of them). Siddle is a trier- Hilfenhaas is need of regeneration in Shield cricket. Batting wise, Hughes looked to have benefitted greatly from the tour. Good performances from Warner, Paine & Ferguson. Given Siddle & Hilfenhaas played this match I don't think that as much was gained that could of been. I'd prefer to have seen Starc, Pattinson & Copeland be the attack for the match, also like to have seen Kane Richardson!

  • Finn on July 16, 2011, 14:53 GMT

    Michael Beer was thrown into the Ashes to try and scare KP, it obviously didn't work and now Australia have to pretend like they rate him highly and so he's on this A tour through sheer embarassment on the selectors part. He will go the same way as Casson, Cullen, McGain etc

  • Shuraim on July 16, 2011, 14:27 GMT

    I dont care what anyone says on my comment but i still believe hauritz is australia's #1 spinner.

  • Basil on July 16, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    Great point Muggsy, Krezja av46 and Beer av 48, are much better at the longer form of the game than OKeefe av 24. What?????

  • Andrew on July 16, 2011, 5:52 GMT

    @fazald - Cummins was rule out of the squad thru injury & McKay hasn't played since early January. @muggsy9 - good points re: Hilfy & Sid - but strongly disagree regarding O'Keefe, particularly O'Keefe v Beer, SO'K is miles ahead statistically. SO'K is stats-wise way ahead of Krezja - although Krezja is vastly more experienced. O'Keefe was selected in his least sucessful format! Really want to see whether he can contine is Shield average of around 25 against International teams. @VivGilchrist - I agree that is boring cricket from Zim - BUT, I think this is the sort of atitude they need to take into their re-admittance into the Test scene, (wanting to bat all day). This attitude will see them lose a lot less then maybe Bangladesh, AND the longer a game goes - the better chance their spinners could route a side on a deteriorating pitch. This game is destined for a draw - which would be a win for Zimbabwe.

  • nathan on July 16, 2011, 1:36 GMT

    @Behind_the_bowlers_arm Sidds and Hilf haven't played any cricket since the end of the domestic season and were picked to get some match practice in before the sri lankan series. Hilf is still a good bowler if he bowls his off cutter regularly (for some off reason in the ashes he never bowled it which meant the batsman knew they could leave knowing it was an outswinger) and uses the crease (outswinger from wide of the crease makes the batsman play more then close in). In regards to SOK i think in the longer forms Beer and krejza are slightly better. plus the selectors have tabs on beer and having 2 left arm offies in the side doesn't work

  • Dummy4 on July 16, 2011, 1:01 GMT

    great 2 see zimbabwe stick it up em seriously tho go away siddle n hilfenhaus u dont threaten zimbabwe let alone wen new zealand n india come here 4 summer.go new zealand

  • Dummy4 on July 16, 2011, 0:31 GMT

    think sid n hilf should be playing county cricket in england and not in the A team, not fair on the up in comers, Copeland ive been reading looks the goods, someone who can bowl consistent line and length

  • Dummy4 on July 16, 2011, 0:17 GMT

    Zim were trying to put Aus to sleep... It's one thing to play defensive but you would have more chance winning by getting all out for 200 in 50 overs than this rubbish.

  • Fazal on July 16, 2011, 0:04 GMT

    No doubt the aussie selectors have missed a golden opportunity of budding some untried fast bowlers in this series by the inclusion of two permanent members of the senior team in Siddle & Hilfenhaus when we have an array of talented fast bowlers in this country knocking at the door of playing for the senior side. Players like James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Cummins, Hazlehurst, McKay, George should have been given the opportunity now that Siddle & Hilfenhaus have already been tried & tested & you never know unless they are given the chance to do so. It is a pity that Mckay & George are not even among the list of contracted players.

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