Perth – Zimbabwe’s bold request for a one-off Test to headline their tour of Australia later in the year is set to be knocked back with Cricket Australia preferring the original plan of three ODIs amid a “very busy” schedule.
As part of the ICC’s Super League, Australia were meant to host Zimbabwe for three ODIs in August 2020 but the series was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Australia’s border closures and strict quarantine requirements quelled the tour being rescheduled last year.
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) June 30, 2020
But with the country’s borders open – even Western Australia’s unyielding hard border is due to be removed on March 3 – and Australia’s congested calendar having space in August and September, Zimbabwe’s tour is set to be resurrected with discussions ongoing between the boards.
Closing in on a rare visit to Australia, Zimbabwe Cricket has launched an audacious bid to add a one-off Test alongside three ODIs. Zimbabwe and Australia have only played three Tests against each other with the last two being in October 2003 in a short series best remembered for Matthew Hayden briefly setting a world record score of 380 in the first Test at the WACA.
“We told them we want a one-off Test to be part of the tour,” ZC chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani told ESPNcricinfo. “We don’t play many Tests, so if there is an opportunity to play against Australia it would be good for our team.
“A Test match against Australia in their conditions would be great development for our players, who would really look forward to the challenge.”
With Zimbabwe planning to host India for an ODI series in August, the tour could be earmarked for September. ZC has also pitched three T20Is as an alternative to the one-off Test in what might be a more enticing proposal ahead of the T20 World Cup.
“We are confident either a one-off Test or the T20Is can be arranged, so we have a bigger tour but it is subject to their scheduling,” he said. “We will come even if it is for three ODIs.”
But CA said the original tour plan would likely remain unchanged amid a grueling schedule, which includes three tours of the subcontinent in the next 12 months and a T20 World Cup title defence on home soil later in the year.
“The Australian team will have a very busy 12-18 months, so the plan is for only ODIs at this point,” a CA spokesperson said. “We are working through dates and venues for all of our matches with stakeholders. It is likely that multiple venues would be used for such a tour.”
With Australia’s big cities unavailable to host during the winter months, the tropical northern city of Darwin has been cited as a potential venue. Townsville, in north eastern Queensland, was supposed to host one match in the original series in 2020.
Australia played winter Tests in Cairns and Darwin against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in 2003 and 2004 but the concept failed to gain a foothold.
It is unclear how many of Australia’s top players would be available, further complicated with the Hundred competition in the UK being played throughout August and ending on September 3.
The teams last met in an ODI in August 2014 when Zimbabwe upset Australia by three wickets in Harare. Zimbabwe, who are currently ranked 13th in ODIs, last played Australia in a 50-over match in Australia during the tri-series in 2003-04 which also involved India.
Mukuhlani said the boards were likely to thrash out final arrangements at the next ICC board meeting in April. CA said the tour was set to be announced in the “coming months”.