Ervine and Lamb available for Zimbabwe selection
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