Zimbabwe news October 7, 2014

Ervine and Lamb available for Zimbabwe selection

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The most common move in Zimbabwe cricket is one players make out of the system, but shortly before their first three-Test tour in more than a decade, two players have come back. Middle-order batsman Craig Ervine and offspinner Greg Lamb have returned to the set up and made themselves available for the upcoming trip to Bangladesh.

They have been away since April 2013 when Ervine, who was not nationally contracted at the time, refused a smaller deal to seek financial security, and Lamb retired to work in the family business. Both have now u-turned on their decisions as they regard Zimbabwe cricket as being in a better monetary position than before.

"They have recommitted themselves to Zimbabwe. They are currently in the training squad," Zimbabwe coach Stephen Mangongo told ESPNcricinfo. Mangongo did not say whether the pair would form part of the touring party, which will likely be selected after a practice match that starts on October 11, but indications are at least Ervine has a strong chance.

His return will bolster an inexperienced middle order that struggled in the recent one-off Test against South Africa - Regis Chakabva, Sean Williams and Richmond Mutumbami managed just 106 runs collectively in both innings. Despite being out of international cricket for 18 months, Ervine could put pressure on one of those three because of his ability against spin.

Ervine has had recent match practice, but on the club circuit. Since opting out of a winter contract with Zimbabwe - an agreement that paid select players who were not centrally contracted for seven months of the year - Ervine played club cricket in Ireland and Australia. It was also rumoured that he had been trying to qualify for Ireland. He was Zimbabwe's top run-scorer across formats when he last played, in the West Indies in 2013, and he told NewsDay he was keen to play as much as he could.

"I am glad to be back, I have been away for a long time and it was tough with lots of traveling," Ervine said. "I want to play for my nation again. It gives me an opportunity to play all three formats of the game and international cricket is more competitive. I had left because at that time I couldn't make a living playing locally and I think things are better off now."

Lamb has not played recently but could still find himself in contention while Prosper Utseya's action is investigated. Utseya was reported for a suspected illegal action in August and has undergone testing in Cardiff. That leaves Zimbabwe with John Nyumbu, who took five wickets on debut against South Africa, as their primary spin option in Bangladesh, but they will also have the likes of Sean Williams and at least one legspinner to choose from.

Neither Ervine nor Lamb are contracted by Zimbabwe Cricket but both were heartened by recent developments - contracts agreed on and remuneration received by players. Zimbabwe's players signed contracts before hosting South Africa in August and there has been no sign of trouble since.

The tour is Zimbabwe's first since they visited West Indies in February-March 2013 and only their second since their Test comeback in August 2011. It is also their first three-Test series since 2001, when they hosted by Sri Lanka.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • DANIEL on October 11, 2014, 9:00 GMT

    Good news that these two are back, if we could have a couple of other players back it would be looking even better. My XI - Raza, Vermuelen, Taylor, Williams, Ervine, Waller, Coventry, Lamb, Meth, Querl and Jarvis. Really good spin and pace options. With a nice mix of left and right handed batsman preventing bowlers been able to stick to one particular line and getting into a rythm.

  • ZCF on October 11, 2014, 5:40 GMT

    Usteya's absence makes things difficult since he's very useful with ball&bat. Wellington Masakadza & Tafadza Kamungozi impressed for Zim A while in Bangladesh recently so it should be simple. Wellington less experienced, and Sean Williams another leftie is already there, so for this Bangladesh side Tafadzwa Kamungozi should probably get the nod now if the lure to play another Masakadza in the XI is not too great.

    I still believe Timecyn Maruma is the best attacking spin option in Zimbabwe, but he hasn't bowled much and wasn't in the FC A tour. With Utseya's ban ZC should really be asking themselves why they messed Natsai Mushangwe around. Has it come back to bite them?

    Chakabva, Raza, Masakadza, Taylor(c), Sibanda, Williams, Chigumbura, Mutumbami(wk), Panyangara, Nyumbu, Kamungozi

  • Android on October 9, 2014, 7:14 GMT

    select both the players for bangladesh tour.my playing eleven would be 1.tino 2.vermulen 3.hamilton 4.ervine 5.taylor 6.coventry (wk) 7.lamb 8.chigumbura 9.vitori 10.mpofu 11.maruma

  • Sachit on October 8, 2014, 4:57 GMT

    Craig Ervine is an capable Cricketer for all formats and Greg Lamb is utility all rounder who suites more for 5 days format. I think their return would definitely boost Zimbabwe's confidence.

  • Shoaib on October 7, 2014, 20:52 GMT

    Doesn't really make a difference who comes back for Zimbabwe. They still have no chance of winning/drawing 1 game on tour to Bangladesh. Our spin attack will be too much for them though I expect Zimbabwe of course to give it a fight.

  • Sam on October 7, 2014, 19:11 GMT

    Test XI of Zim:

    1 Mawoyo 2 H Masakadza 3 Williams 4 Taylor (C) 5 C Ervine 6 Raza 7 Mutumbami (WK) 8 Panyangara 9 Nyumbu 10 Chatara 11 W Masakadza.

    12 Vermeulen 13 Chigumbura 14 Chakabva 15 Maruma 16 Sibanda 17 Vitori.

  • ZCF on October 7, 2014, 18:33 GMT

    Test XI should be: Chakabva, Raza, Masakadza, Taylor(c), Sibanda, Williams, Chigumbura, Mutumbami(wk), Utseya, Panyangara, Nyumbu

    Seamers won't get much assistance so the spin trio of Utseya, Nyumbu & Williams should be the backbone of the attack. If Utseya is not cleared to bowl, arisk will have to be taken with one of Wellington Masakadza&Kamungozi in his place.

    The bulk of the overs will be bowled by the spinners anyway so as the tightest&most disciplined of all seamers, Panyangara should get the nod. Bangladesh have a number of left-handers. Seeing as Chigumbura has been effective with the new ball in those conditions, he's the best new ball partner for Panyangara. Sibanda has proven to be a handy part-time seamer as well, so if there's injuries to either one of the seamers he should be able to step up alongside Hami as the other seam options.

    Mawoyo,Chari,Maruma,Wellington,Kamungozi,Vitori&Chatara complete the 18 man shortlist. Although Mawoyo&Vitori might miss out on squad.

  • Andrew on October 7, 2014, 18:31 GMT

    While i do like the general idea of 'rewarding the loyal' i fear that in this case loyalty has largely been borne out of lack of opportunity elsewhere. [ i know of no current player that has turned down a good offer - its a case of not having been made an offer - correct me if i am wrong in a meaningful way] - so lack of opportunity elsewhere is largely borne out of mediocre ability - so in this case it would be rewarding mediocrity - which as a fan of the national team I am not in favour of.

    Craig Ervine in definitely, his figures speak for themselves - Lamb i am less sure about - we have a decent set of spinners, and i dont rate his batting to the same extent. But then the competition is not exactly fierce at the moment so maybe...

    neither are a solution to our real problems though, a fear-inducing pacer & a couple of solid top order batsman.

    Vitori & Chatara hopefully will both play

  • Sam on October 7, 2014, 18:28 GMT

    Craig Ervine is one of the best batsman of Zimbabwe. His records speak for him. He is full of class. His ODI average is 35+ with 5 50s, remember the knock 80 he played vs WI in Greneda ! Also he has FC average of over 37. There's no comparison of Craig Ervine with Chibhabha, Mire or Kasteni as they have no such international records.

  • Graham on October 7, 2014, 18:09 GMT

    Great news , class players especially Lamb , and will be good for the local cricket too..never look a gift horse in the mouth...More competition is healthy and these 2 have the experience to drive the young..straight into the squad for Bangladesh? I am so sure about this...

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