Brendan Taylor and Kyle Jarvis, both back to the Zimbabwe fold after county stints, have been included in the Test squad for the two-match series against West Indies starting on Saturday in Bulawayo. Solomon Mire, the Australian-based allrounder who is also in the 16-member squad, is in line to make his Test debut.
Zimbabwe have made seven changes to the squad that last played a Test, in Sri Lanka in July, with no space for Ryan Burl, Tendai Chatara, Tarisai Musakanda, Carl Mumba, Natsai Mushangwe, Nathan Waller and Donald Tiripano. Of these, Chatara is the only one missing out due to injury.
Wicketkeeper Nyasha Mayavo and left-armer Tendai Chisoro are the other uncapped players in the squad. However, Mayavo could miss out to regular gloveman Regis Chakabva and Chisoro may have to battle for his place alongside veterans Chris Mpofu, the returning Jarvis and Michael Chinouya, who wasn't part of the Test squad in Sri Lanka. Chamu Chibhabha, also not part of the Sri Lanka squad, has been included.
The new-look squad heralds the start of a new era in Zimbabwe cricket, with the board having actively sought the return of players who left seeking financial stability elsewhere. With a more secure governance structure in place under new managing director Faisal Hasnain, convener of selectors Tatenda Taibu has been able to convince Taylor, Jarvis and Mire to return.
While Jarvis is certain to open the bowling and add much-needed pace, swing and aggression to a usually pedestrian Zimbabwe attack, Taylor and Mire will slot into a line-up that is taking on a more solid appearance. Hamilton Masakadza, Craig Ervine, Sean Williams, PJ Moor and Sikandar Raza have all recently scored Test centuries, adding to Zimbabwe's new-found confidence.
Though Zimbabwe's main aim over the next few months is to work towards 2019 World Cup qualification, they are also seeking to play more Tests, more so now following the addition of two new Full Members in Ireland and Afghanistan.
Apart from hosting West Indies, they are also slated to travel to South Africa for the inaugural four-day Test, which will also be played under lights, in December. There is also talk of a series against Afghanistan, possibly in the UAE, before they host the World Cup qualifiers in March.
Zimbabwe last won a Test more than four years ago, against Pakistan in Harare. They have since lost nine Tests: five at home, three in Bangladesh and one in Sri Lanka.