The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) warmed up to the concept of floodlit cricket only in 1997, when the first day-night match was played under temporary lights at Edgbaston between Warwickshire and Somerset in the 40-overs Sunday League.
As things stand, there is no certainty yet on whether Zimbabwe’s ODI tour of Australia in August will take place as scheduled.
However, that is not going to stop me from revisiting the Chevrons’ most spirited displays on Australian soil.
Since their first appearance at the 1992 World Cup, Zimbabwe have played 28 ODIs in Australia, and though they have won only thrice, they have more than held their own on quite a few occasions.
If I do not consider the 2015 World Cup, Zimbabwe’s last tour of Australia was in 2003-04. As we hope for their return to Australian shores, here is a look at six of their best ODI performances down under.
Beat England by nine runs, World Cup league stage, Albury, 1991-92
Zimbabwe looked down and out as they could muster only 134 after electing to field. But seamer Eddo Brandes, chicken farmer by profession, responded with a stunning spell to reduce England to 5-43. A stand of 52 for the sixth wicket brought England back, but with the overs ticking away, they lost their last five wickets for 30, getting shot out for 125 in 49.1 overs. Brandes finished with figures of 10-4-21-4.
Beat England by 13 runs, Benson and Hedges World Series, Sydney, 1994-95
Zimbabwe showed that their triumph over England at the World Cup was no flash in the pan with another memorable success, this time in a World Series game. Grant Flower became the first man to carry his bat in an ODI, scoring 84 not out in a total of 205, even as Darren Gough took 5-44. England lost wickets at regular intervals in reply, and could only manage 192 in the face of a commendable combined bowling effort.
Lost to West Indies by one wicket, Carlton Series, Brisbane, 2000-01
The West Indies held on for a one-wicket win in this Carlton tri-series clash at the Gabba. Alistair Campbell’s 81 guided Zimbabwe to 2-154 before the Windies fought back to restrict them to 9-240. The West Indians stuttered in their chase, and at 6-155, Zimbabwe were ahead. But Ricardo Powell had other ideas: he hit 83 not out in the company of the tail, leading his team to a tense victory with eight balls remaining.
Beat West Indies by 47 runs, Carlton Series, Sydney, 2000-01
Ten days later, Zimbabwe turned the tables under the SCG lights. The West Indian bowlers, led by Cameron Cuffy (4-24), bowled Zimbabwe out for 138, with captain Heath Streak, who came in at 6-66, top-scoring with a hardy 45. Streak, along with fellow pacer Bryan Strang (3-15), starred with the ball as well, snaring 4-8 in a fine spell. The West Indies shockingly capitulated from 0-16 to 8-31, before folding for 91.
Lost to Australia by one run, Carlton Series, Perth, 2000-01
In what was their last match of the tournament, Zimbabwe came agonisingly close to toppling the world champions. After Australia had piled up 5-302 (Damien Martyn 144 not out), Zimbabwe rode on a fourth-wicket stand of 187 between Stuart Carlisle (119) and Grant Flower (85). The equation was 14 off the final over and three off the last ball, but Glenn McGrath ensured that the innings closed at 6-301.
Lost to India by three runs, VB Series, Adelaide, 2003-04
Zimbabwe finished without a win in this tri-series, but they had their moments. They had a great start to their fifth game, reducing India to a dire 3-4, before VVS Laxman (131) steered the total to 7-280. Carlisle (109) and Sean Ervine (100) came together at 3-46 and put on 202 – then a national record – to keep the chase alive. However, Zimbabwe failed to get nine off the last over, and were limited to 6-277.
Which has been your favourite Zimbabwean moment in Australia?