Former captain ready to play February 28, 2005

Streak set for quick return to Zimbabwe side

Cricinfo staff

Heath Streak: ready to return © Getty Images

Former Zimbabwean captain Heath Streak is set to be rushed back into the international fold on Wednesday for the final match of the series against South Africa after agreeing a new contract with Zimbabwe Cricket. He is due to arrive in the country on Monday and is available for immediate selection.

It will be his first international appearance since March 2004 against Bangladesh after which he walked out on international cricket, along with 13 other leading players, in protest at the selection policy of Zimbabwe Cricket (formerly the ZCU).

He has continued to play club cricket during his international hiatus but has not played any first-class cricket since the end of the English season when he was an overseas player with Warwickshire. There was a thought that he would slot into the Zimbabwe A series against Bangladesh A to get some match practice before joining his team mates in time for the first Test against South Africa in Cape Town on Friday.

But his return has now been fast-tracked to help the ailing Zimbabwean side, who have lost the first two one-day internationals by 165 runs and 131 runs respectively. He joins the growing list of former rebels returning to the ranks, following Barney Rogers and Gavin Ewing on the path back to international cricket. Streak, who is 31 next month, has taken 234 wickets in 183 one-day internationals and 202 wickets in 59 Tests for Zimbabwe.

He told BBC Sport: "I'm looking forward to getting back. Obviously there's an element of concern at not having played at this level for a while, but it's not like I haven't been playing cricket. I had a good season at Warwickshire and have been playing club cricket." And he says he is happy to play under current captain Tatenda Taibu. "I've always played the best I can whether captain or not. I'll give as much as I can without stepping on Tatenda's toes. I'll be there for him to help and to lend the experience that I've gained."

More of the 14 rebels are in line to follow Streak back into the national side. Allrounder Andy Blignaut is playing for Zimbabwe A, but only as a batsman as he recovers from the injuries that restricted is performances for Tasmania, while Stuart Carlisle, Trevor Gripper, Neil Ferreira and Charles Coventry are also involved.

Of the remaining rebels, Craig Wishart and Gary Brent have said they are not interested in returning and Grant Flower, Sean Ervine and Ray Price are all signed up with English counties. A spokesman from the sports agency Interactive said that Travis Friend, who has a deal with Derbyshire for this summer, intends to honour his commitments for the English season but will not rule out a return to Zimbabwe colours in 2006. Similarly Richard Sims, who will play for Swardeston in the East Anglian Premier League with a view to obtaining some county 2nd XI experience, is also keeping his options open.