69 days to World Cup: When Zimbabwe baked their way to a stunning upset

Zimbabwe's first ever ODI came against a highly-fancied Australian side at Trent Bridge in the 1983 World Cup.

Published: 22nd March 2019 04:32 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th May 2019 05:27 PM   |  A+A-

Duncan Fletcher. (File Photo | AFP)

Online Desk

"We couldn't believe it."

Those were the words of Australian captain Kim Hughes following what was arguably the biggest upset in World Cup history.

Zimbabwe's first ever ODI came against a highly-fancied Australian side at Trent Bridge in the 1983 World Cup. While Australia had Allan Border, Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson, Rod Marsh and Kim Hughes, Zimbabwe only had John Traicos with prior international experience. On top of that, Zimbabwe even making it to the World Cup wasn't certain. 

Not only did it require captain Duncan Fletcher to bring in an ex-Springbok rugby player Ian Robertson but also a strict regime that included weightlifting and baseball and some baking. Yes, baking, because the team had to bake cakes, have raffles, sell ties, conduct beer festivals and work as bouncers at a casino, all to raise enough money to go to the World Cup.

When the time eventually came, it was the captain leading from the front, making it a debut to remember, both for him and his team. After losing the toss, Zimbabwe were struggling at 86/4 and it soon became 94/5. Then came a crucial 70-run partnership between Kevin Curran and the skipper that took just 15 overs. 

Although Curran was gone in controversial circumstances, much like Dave Houghton, Fletcher was still at the crease. With Iain Butchart for company, the skipper decided to go on the offensive and runs soon started to flow. While Butchart was hanging in initially, the pressure was taken off at the other end.

And before you knew it, the pair added an unbroken 75 for the seventh wicket in just 13 overs and Fletcher's unbeaten 69 had guided Zimbabwe to 239/6. While the target was far from unassailable, the recovery from a precarious position meant that Zimbabwe still had a chance of creating an upset.

In response, Australia registered a fifty partnership for the opening wicket before Fletcher once again made the difference. The skipper got the first four Australian wickets before the run-out of the well-set Kepler Wessels reduced Australia to 138/5.

From there, it was all up to Allan Border and when he was dismissed by Curran, the game was all but over. Marsh did his best to avert the inevitable but it wasn't to be as Fletcher's all-round efforts, which included an incredible double of 69* and 4/42 on ODI debut, helped his side get over the line.


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  • Sridhar J.

    Very interesting. But why this old story now?
    2 years ago reply
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