Geoff Marsh, the former Australia and Zimbabwe coach, has said that Zimbabwe's return to Test cricket in 2007 is a hasty decision. Marsh, who was coach in 2004 when a series against Australia was aborted due to player strikes, said the Zimbabwe Board XI's 3-0 drubbing at the hands of an Australian Academy side was evidence that the country should not be rushed back into Test cricket.
Kevin Curran, Zimbabwe's coach, announced yesterday that his team would be ready for Test cricket in November 2007, for a home series against West Indies. Speaking to The Age, Marsh expressed his concern after the young Centre of Excellence side hammered the opposition, which included some international experience, with ease.
"That's (against) our academy. So you've got to say, 'Well, where are they at?'", Marsh said. "They've got to be competitive. We've just sent a cricket academy side there and absolutely belted them. You would like to see Zimbabwe back in Test cricket, no doubt about that, they've got some terrific young talent in the system but they've just lost too many senior players. The whole thing is sad ... I think next year is too early."
Marsh's tenure as coach of Zimbabwe sadly coincided with the politicalisation of the national side, and the defection of many key players, and he chose not to extend his marginalised coach's extention after it expired in 2004.
Incidentally, Marsh's son Shaun, was just one of a crop of Australian batsman to pick runs off the Zimbabwean side. Marsh made 170 in the first match, while Tasmania's George Bailey hit consecutive centuries for the team led by Tim Nielsen - a contender to replace John Buchanan as Australian coach after the World Cup.
Australia are due to tour Zimbabwe for three one-day internationals in June of next year.