Brendan Taylor could make his international comeback as early as next month after more than two years out of Zimbabwe colours. On Thursday, Taylor was released from his county deal with Nottinghamshire and recontracted by Zimbabwe Cricket.
He is making his way to Harare where, after a 10-day break with family, he will join training camps for matches against Netherlands, Pakistan A and a two-Test series against West Indies in October.
Tatenda Taibu, Zimbabwe's convener of selectors, expects Taylor to all but walk back into the starting XI. "Anyone who knows cricket knows Brendan Taylor is a quality player. We don't need to see much. We have been following his performances and we know how he has been doing on the county circuit. We're looking forward to having him back," Taibu told ESPNcricinfo.
Taibu was instrumental in "breaking the ice" between Taylor and Zimbabwe Cricket and opening the door for Taylor's return after the former captain announced his international retirement after the 2015 World Cup. At the time, Taylor said he had tried to "make the best decision for my family moving forward," which implied the financial security of the county circuit had won out over a then-haphazard system of payment and often non-payment in Zimbabwe.
But with Taylor's wife Kelly remaining in Zimbabwe with their four young sons, Taylor quickly realised the decision would, in fact, take its toll on his family. That became one of the driving factors for Taylor wanting to return home but it was not the only one.
In the time Taylor was away, ZC has undergone significant changes including the appointment of a new coach in Heath Streak, with whom Taylor has worked closely before, and an overhaul of the governance structures. "Part of the reason Brendan was interested in coming back was that over the last six months, Zimbabwe Cricket has taken a fresh approach on and off the field. We have made significant progress administration wise," Faisal Hasnain, ZC's managing director said.
When Taibu learned of Taylor's interest in going home, he opened the lines of communication between Taylor and ZC but ultimately, it was the knowledge that the financial affairs were smoothing over that convinced Taylor. Taibu said he understood ZC's new finance chief, Feroza Shariff, who was appointed in May had put a proper system in place to ensure that things like player payments were now being completed without any of the past complications or delays.
"That side of our organisation is running well. We are prioritising what we need to pay," Hasnain confirmed. "I'm sure Brendan would have spoken not just to us but with other players in the system as well."
Taylor's new contract kicks in immediately, which marries perfectly with ZC's imminent need to include him in their squad. As they gear up for World Cup qualifiers that Hasnain is confident they will host (confirmation is expected at the ICC's October meeting), Zimbabwe will play Netherlands, Pakistan A, and West Indies this year, and may be in line to be South Africa's Boxing Day opponents in December. They are in talks to come up against Afghanistan next year too, in what could be Afghanistan's inaugural Test. To have Taylor available for those matches is a massive boost. ZC is also hopeful Kyle Jarvis, who is still contracted to Lancashire will also rejoin the ranks.
The only possible hitch in Taylor and ZC's happily-ever-after is the South African T20 Global League. Taylor is contracted to Stellenbosch Kings and with the tournament scheduled for November 3 until December 16, it may clash with some of Zimbabwe's plans. If Taylor is needed for pre-season in South Africa, he may not be able to play a Test against West Indies. Asked whether this was a concern for ZC, Hasnain said he "hoped" it would not become a major one.
For now, Zimbabwe are just pleased to have Taylor back.