Zimbabwe Tri Series Final- Australia v South Africa: Hip Hip Harare

A tournament that has meant a hell of a lot more for Zimbabwean cricket than it’s two visiting teams, has been won by South Africa. For the visiting teams, it was a chance to try out different players with the upcoming World Cup in mind. For the home team the status of the tourists meant a much greater revenue from worldwide television rights, ensuring their players continue to get paid, and paid on time. That the home team was competitive in every game, and beat Australia in an ODI for only the second time, was a bonus. Zimbabwe’s only previous win over Australia in this format was in the Southern African nation’s first ever ODI in the 1983 World Cup. Click here for scorecard of that 1983 game  Rodney Malcom Hogg, who represented Australia in that World Cup match, was prompted to tweet “At least when Zimbabwe beat us in ’83 we were drinking cans the night before. And lots of them.” Surprisingly, Australia didn’t progress far in the 1983 World Cup.

“Poet ” Tim Cauldron summed up Zimbabwean life in 2008 on ‘Newstopia’,  and he’d probably come up with the same in 2014. All 7 games of the series were played at the Harare Sports Club, with the first 6 being played in front of sparse crowds. The final, however, was played to a packed out venue. Wonderful to see, and it gave the final what seemed like a fantastic atmosphere.

Australia didn’t make enough runs in the final. 217 was at least 60 runs short. Dale Steyn bowled fast and had some Aussie batsmen playing back when they should have played forward. Aaron Finch made his least fluent half century of the series. Some good hitting by Faulkner and Starc in their 9th wicket partnership gave Australia some sort of target to defend. But it was never going to be enough against the Proteas with du Plessis, Amla and de Villiers in red hot form. South Africa’s first ever win over Australia in a ODI final.

Australia 9/217 (AJ Finch 54, JP Faulkner 40, DW Steyn 4/35) lost to

South Africa 4/221 (F du Plessis 96, AB de Villiers 57*, HM Amla 51)

Despite losing the final, there are several positives for Australia to come out of this series. Mitchell Marsh had a breakout series and with fellow all-rounders Faulkner and Maxwell seemingly well entrenched, Shane Watson has a battle on his hands to return to the one-day side. No doubt he will be given chances but with Finch excelling as an opener, Warner to return and Clarke likely to bat at 3 (barring further back and hamstring issues) where does Watto fit in? Could he replicate Marsh’s innings of 86 off 51 balls including 7 sixes in a preliminary game against South Africa? Very debatable. Nathan Lyon was impressive in his first proper run in the ODI team. His ability to tie down batsmen when not taking wickets still in question. Finch has cemented a spot as opener for now. Hughes showed he’s not out of place in this format.

Questions remain on Steve Smith who has proved his worth at Test level but is far from it so far in ODI’s. And all fast bowling positions are up for grabs. Is Mitchell Johnson the right man for one-day cricket? Sure he intimidates but is his lack of variety in pace a hinderance in the 50 over game? Do we need Mitch Starc in the team with fellow left-armers Johnson and Faulkner already there? Is Kane Richardson up to International cricket? At least we have plenty of ODI cricket to play before the World Cup to sort it all out.

I have Australia’s best ODI team looking like this at the moment:

Warner

Finch

Clarke (C)

Bailey

Maxwell

M.Marsh

Haddin

Faulkner

Harris/Pattinson/Cummins/Richardson/McKay

Johnson/Starc

Lyon/Doherty

 

With Watson, S.Marsh, Hughes, Smith, White, Ferguson, Wade & Cutting also competing for places in the squad.

Plenty of time for some bolters to come through though. An important time for players and the ODI game in general coming up.

 

About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134

Comments

  1. Thanks for keeping those of us without Foxtel up to date with events Luke. I understand the economic imperative for short formats, but I struggle to take interest. Good that the income will keep some strands of civilisation and cricket alive inside Zimbabwe.
    I am interested in your views on Michael Clarke in shorter formats. His back/hamstrings seem to limit what he can do physically in the field, and his batting is classically five day straight down the line.
    No captain/player goes quietly, but is it time to give him the Steve Waugh tap on the shoulder, and limit him to Tests?

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Good very accurate summary , Luke we can only hope re Watto the wombat and yes there are a lot of spots up for grabs and totally agree with , PB Clarkes body and his batting style and lack of improvisation should end his 1 day career

  3. Hi Luke, just a quick Q ? Watson v M. Marsh, is an an intriguing one. MItch Marsh showed some top form, especially with the bat in the triangular series, and he is mooted as our all rounder of choice for the future. Watson and his injuries are an ongoing area of concern, but i feel his future is in the limited overs format, rather than the long game. So do we retain M Marsh, or utilise Watsons experience for maybe his final World Cup ?

    Glen!

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Peter, can’t see Clarke playing ODI’s outside of Australia again, think he will bow out of the 50 over format after the World Cup, if his back and hammies hold up.
    Glen, I see Watson and M.Marsh probably competing for the one spot in both formats. I’m sure Watson will be given every chance, Marsh more destructive down the order, Watson slightly better at this stage with the ball. Given both players histories, injury could have the final say. Will be fascinating to watch both this Summer.

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