Venue – Riverway Stadium, Townsville
Date: Sunday August 28
This series of three ODIs would likely not have been played if it weren’t for the fact that the three matches make up part of the 2020-23 ICC Cricket World Cup Super League. The tour was originally scheduled to be played in 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic forced a series of cancelations until these dates in late August/early September 2022 were identified as being an open window.
This tour marks the first time Zimbabwe has played in Australia in almost two decades. Their last tour back in 2003-04 consisted of a pair of Test matches and a tri-series in the ODI format where the two countries were joined by India. To put this in cricketing terms, the tour was so long ago that the T20 format had only just been invented.
The location of this series is fascinating. THe Aussies have never played at the Riverway Stadium with the only international cricket seen at the venue being a pair of ODIs between Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong back in 2014.
Australia will be taking this one seriously more because of their next step in ODIs than any threat Zimbabwe will bring. This series is followed by three matches for the hosts against New Zealand in Cairns, matches that are much more likely to tell us where Australia stands in this format of the game.
To that end, this is basically a full-strength side fielded by the Australians, with just a couple of regulars missing. Test captain Pat Cummins is being rested – something that we see more and more with cricketers that play both the white and red ball games to a high level – while Travis Head is also missing as his partner is about to give birth.
One player that is back in the squad is spinner Adam Zampa, with he having missed out recently due to the birth of his own child. There are also several players in the squad that have been playing through injury recently, with the likes of Mitchell Starc and Steve Smith hoping that a break since their July tour of Sri Lanka will have allowed niggles to clear up.
Zimbabwe has been busy recently, and the amount of matches they have played is taking its toll on what is a small squad by the standards of international cricket. The good news is that ace fast bowler Blessing Muzarabani is back from injury. The back news is that bowlers Wellington Masakadza (spin) and Tendai Chatara (pace) are out with injuries, as is usual captain Craig Ervine.
This means that some of the fringe players will have to step up and show form if this series is not to be a whitewash. Bowler Richard Ngarava is in good form, while the batting of Sikandar Raza has certainly been a bring spot as of late.
Australia is rightly a massive favorite here. Even if Zimbabwe were at full strength, it would be hard to make an argument for them to win. About the only question mark about the series is the pitch, with both teams pretty much in the dark about how it plays. Stay off the winner/loser here and instead hit some props like a hundred to be scored at 7/10 or Raza to be the top batsman for Zimbabwe at 23/10 with BetXchange.