Sean Ervine in Zimbabwe's finalised World Cup squad
Sean Ervine will return to international duty with Zimbabwe at the World Cup after being included in the finalised squad of 15 for the tournament, which starts on February 19. Elton Chigumbura will captain an evenly-spread group that includes six batsmen, two of whom are part-time spinners, three seamers and three specialist slow bowlers.
Ervine will join his young brother Craig in the squad on a three-year contract, signed over Christmas, but for the moment will also continue his association with Hampshire as an overseas player and remains part of their squad for the ongoing Caribbean Twenty20 competition. His return to Zimbabwe colours ends an international hiatus of nearly seven years, and his experience will help to shore up a brittle middle order, as well as providing a third all-round option along with Chigumbura and Greg Lamb.
The squad also provides options in the wicketkeeping department. Tatenda Taibu is an obvious first choice for the role, but Regis Chakabva, Brendan Taylor and Charles Coventry could all provide competent back-up should he be injured.
One area in which Zimbabwe may be a little light is their opening batsmen. With Hamilton Masakadza omitted from Zimbabwe's World Cup plans despite helping to put together some useful opening stands last year, Chamu Chibhabha failing to make the cut and Terrence Duffin, Tino Mawoyo and Vusi Sibanda included only as non-travelling reserves it would appear either Chakabva or Taibu will be Taylor's partner at the top.
Chakabva has opened for Zimbabwe Under-19, Zimbabwe A and Zimbabwe Provinces in limited-overs cricket on occasion, while Taibu has taken first strike in three one-day internationals - most recently against Bangladesh at Mirpur in January 2009 - although his only success in that position has been in domestic cricket.
Prosper Utseya, Ray Price and Graeme Cremer were always certainties in the World Cup squad with Zimbabwe building their bowling attack around spin in recent times, while Shingi Masakadza, Chris Mpofu and Ed Rainsford were the three most obvious choices for the seamers' positions. There's no space for Ryan Butterworth, whose all-round performances in the domestic Stanbic Bank 20 Series earned him a call-up for the trip to Bangladesh late last year, with Charles Coventry and Sean Williams taking the final two spots.
Brian Lara, who signed a contract as batting consultant to the national side after his involvement in the local Twenty20 tournament with the Southern Rocks franchise, will join the touring party on a pre-World Cup trip to Dubai and India from February 1. Zimbabwe will play two warm-up matches in each country, and coach Alan Butcher has argued that they will be better or as well prepared for the World Cup as any of their 13 rivals.
Zimbabwe World Cup squad: Elton Chigumbura (capt), Regis Chakabva, Charles Coventry, Graeme Cremer, Craig Ervine, Sean Ervine, Gregory Lamb, Shingirai Masakadza, Christopher Mpofu, Raymond Price, Edward Rainsford, Tatenda Taibu, Brendan Taylor, Prosper Utseya, Sean Williams
Non-travelling reserves: Terrence Duffin, Tinotenda Mawoyo, Njabulo Ncube, Tinashe Panyangara, Vusimuzi Sibanda