It’s going to be a struggle to take an interest in the two Test “3 Test Series” between Australia and Zimbabwe. Coming so soon after the Bangladesh series, it is hard to see this being anything other than a 2-0 cakewalk for the Australians.
Despite the absence through injury of Glenn McGrath and the continuing suspension of Shane Warne, Australia will be much too strong. Consider that Martin Love, who scored a century in his last Test innings and had an outstanding county season for Dynamo Durham, has been dropped to make way for Damien Martyn. And Michael Clarke still can’t get a look in. The motivation of this Australian team is the only issue, with the bigger attraction (for some) of the ODI triseries in India just around the corner.
Zimbabwe, minus The Brothers Flower, Andy (retired to South Australia) and Grant (injured), have not set the world on fire in their first two three-day matches on their Australian tour – against an invitational team from the Rockingham-Mandurah club near Perth, and against the Western Australian shield side, a game which they very nearly lost.
Ticket sales for the First Test at the WACA have been extremely underwhelming, and channel 9 are refusing to screen the final hour or so of each day’s play in the eastern states, because of the beloved National Nine News and A Current Affair. (Afraid of a bloodbath in the ratings, and they’re probably right on that point.)
I’m at a dead loss to understand why the Second Test was allocated to the Sydney Cricket Ground. Sure, they get sellouts for the New Year’s Test every year, as they are most likely to do again when India plays in January. But mid-October? They will be lucky to get 3000 to the SCG on any given day of the Zimbabwe Test.
The presence of the Rugby World Cup in this country diverts attention as well, even in Perth where two matches at Subiaco Oval this Saturday and Sunday will clash with playing days in the Test at the WACA (granted, the rugby doesn’t kick off till 8pm each night).
Why couldn’t the SCG Test have been allocated to Bellerive Oval, Hobart, which is missing out on Test cricket this season completely. (It should also be noted that Hobart is the only state capital not to be allocated a Rugby World Cup game.) Another good option for the Second Test would have been Manuka Oval, Canberra.
Anyway, I can’t predict anything other than Australia 2 Zimbabwe 0 for this series, unless the weather turns nasty somewhere along the line.