Tim Zoehrer will keep wickets for Australia for the first time since
1987 in the World Series match against South Africa at the WACA Ground on
Sunday, substituting for the injured Ian Healy.
In the intervening seven years, Zoehrer has become one of Western
Australia's longestserving players, dabbled in a career as a leg-spinner, toured
England twice and topped the bowling averages both times.
He has also married, mellowed and perhaps in his most private moments
kicked himself for the youthful intemperance that led to his exit from the
Australian side after just 10 Tests.
Still, the time for regrets is past, and at 32, Zoehrer was only too
pleased yesterday to return from a coaching clinic to hear the voice of chairman
of selectors Laurie Sawle on his answering service, asking him if he was doing
anything on Sunday.
As it happened, he had arranged a barbecue with his sister, visiting from
Melbourne, but quickly decided that the sausages would keep. "I'm rapt," he
said. "It's an opportunity to go out and perform to the best of my ability.
It'll be a great joy to go out and perform in front of a packed home crowd."
Zoehrer's wicket-tending fluctuated on Australia's tour of England last
year. He had eight dismissals against Surrey one memorable afternoon at The
Oval, but at other times was confounded by the prodigious turn of Shane Warne
and Tim May. He floundered, too, with the bat.
But since returning to Australia, and abandoning his bowling, he has been
his old, efficient self in both departments. "I believe I'm keeping as well as
ever," he said.
Healy suffered a severely bruised - though not broken - right ankle when
he was struck by a throw from New Zealand fieldsman Mark Greatbatch in Sydney on
Although he hobbled on with a runner to make 48, he decided yesterday to
stand down from one of Australia's less vital engagements this summer.
He is expected to resume in Australia's match against New Zealand in
Melbourne next Wednesday, the last before the World Series finals.
Healy has been a remarkably resilient player. Since his elevation to the
Test side in 1988, he has played 58 consecutive Test matches, and missed only
two one-day internationals, against England in 1989, when Mike Veletta kept, and
against India in the 1992 World Cup when David Boon took the gloves.
Perth is becoming a bitter-sweet place in his scrapbook, for it was
against New Zealand there earlier this season that he scored his second Test -
and first-class - century. But it was also there last season that he was jeered
by the parochial crowd, who perceived fallibility in him, and who in any case
Mark Waugh and Shane Warne are likely to be set aside from Australia's 13
on Sunday, Waugh as much because of the selectors' disenchantment with his form
as because of injury, and Warne because the WACA Ground has not been kind to him
in the past, and because May needs more bowling.