"Zimbabwe should not be rushed back into Test"

Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney: Former Australian opener and ex-Zimbabwe coach Geoff Marsh feels the African country's planned return to Test cricket arena next year would be premature in view of their poor standard.

Marsh, who coached Zimbabwe in 2004 when its series against Australia was aborted because of player strikes, said the 3-0 thrashing of Zimbabwe Board XI, which have some players of international experience, by an Australian Academy team showed Zimbabwe should not be rushed back into the longer version of the game.

Zimbabwe coach Kevin Curran said in South Africa where the two teams are due to play three one-dayers as preparations for the Champions Trophy in India from next month, that his team would be ready for Test cricket in November next year for a home series against the West Indies.

''That's (against) our academy. So you've got to say, 'Well, where are they at?' They've got to be competitive. We've just sent a cricket academy side there and absolutely belted them,'' Marsh told The Age newspaper.

''You would like to see Zimbabwe back in Test cricket, no doubt about that, they've got some terrific young talent in the system but they've just lost too many senior players. The whole thing is sad. I think next year is too early,'' he said.

Marsh's tenure as coach of Zimbabwe coincided with the politicisation of the national side and the defection of many key players, and he chose not to extend his stint after it expired in 2004.

Zimbabwe withdrew from the Test circuit in January this year and commissioned an independent investigation into allegations of financial mismanagement by their cricket board, a move backed by the International Cricket Council.

Australia are due to tour Zimbabwe for three One-day internationals in June of next year.

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