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Australia v Zimbabwe, 1st Test at WACA Ground in Perth

Preview by Shane Dell 05/10/03

The Zimbabwe pretenders should prepare themselves for physical pain according to Captain of the Aussie Juggernaut Steve Waugh, commenting in the lead up to the first Test scheduled to start at the WACA ground in Perth on Thursday 9 October.

Waugh further cautioned that “Perth is a bouncy wicket, unique in world cricket and there is always a chance someone will get hurt.”

Nearly 12 months ago Waugh stated, “there will be injuries,” when commenting prior to the commencement of the third Test against England in Perth, during the most recently completed Ashes Series.  The Aussie pacemen later battered the England team into submission in three days with a barrage of short pitched bowling that resulted in injuries to several England batsmen.

If the match against England is any indication what Zimbabwe is likely to come up against when they get the opportunity to test their courage against the likes of Lee, Gillespie and Williams, it is likely when we look back in coming weeks we may consider Waugh’s warning of physical pain an understatement.

Zimbabwe, already weakened by the absence of the Flower brothers and more than likely the loss of Douglas Hondo to injury, will need much more than courage to compete against Australia on a pitch that suits the Aussie bowlers to a tee. There simply hasn’t been a team in recent times that has been able to compete affectively against Australia in Perth.

Perth always has been and always will be a pitch that will test the mettle of the greatest of world batsmen. It’s a very fast, bouncy pitch that most top order batsmen rarely experience anywhere else in the world. The WACA ground still remains the only Australian pitch where Steve Waugh has not made a century, with his highest score remaining 99 not out against England in the 1994-95 Ashes Series.

The Aussies will go into the first test with a full strength team, which at this time looks unlikely to include Glenn McGrath who pulled up sore after net practice yesterday, after a recent ankle operation. If  ‘Pigeon” is declared unfit for the first test, which is 99% likely, he will be replaced by Brad Williams, a Western Australian paceman who knows the WACA like the back of his hand.

Cricket Australia is highly unlikely to risk aggravating McGrath’s ankle and if any doubt remains as to his fitness , they will hold him back with the view to having him 100% fit for the coming Series against India.

The only other change likely to the Aussie team is the replacement of Martin Love who temporarily took over the batting spot of Damien Martyn, after he suffered a broken finger at the World Cup. Martyn, now fully recovered from his injury moves back into the team automatically as the incumbent.

Although we can expect the Zimbabwe team to give this match everything they have got, it is not likely they will be able to last any longer than the English did during the previous summer.

Likely to be over almost as quick as it started, the highlights of this match are likely to be the batting feats by the Aussie top order and the destruction of the Zimbos by the Aussie pacemen, who will NOT give the opposition any quarter whatsoever.

Likely Australian Team

  • M Hayden
  • J Langer
  • R Ponting
  • D Martyn
  • S Waugh (capt)
  • D Lehmann
  • A Gilchrist
  • B Lee
  • J Gillespie
  • B Williams
  • S MacGill
  • A Bichel (12th man)

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