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Taylor goes Kolpak, 'retires' from Zimbabwe cricket

Wicketkeeper-batsman Brendan Taylor is set to play his final game for Zimbabwe when he takes the field against India in their last Group B game of the 2015 World Cup

Arya Yuyutsu
Wicketkeeper-batsman Brendan Taylor is set to play his final game for Zimbabwe when he takes the field against India in their last Group B game of the 2015 World Cup. Taylor has signed a three-year Kolpak deal with Nottinghamshire, subject to ECB approval, which makes him ineligible to play for Zimbabwe while that contract is in effect. On the eve of the India match, Taylor tweeted he had "decided to retire from ZC".*
Taylor's availability for Nottinghamshire will be confirmed following the World Cup. He could also go on to qualify for England.
Calling the decision the biggest one he has had to make, Taylor said he was sad to leave Zimbabwe cricket but had made the choice with his family in mind.
"It's been one of the biggest decisions I've had to make; in fact the biggest decision," Taylor told ESPNcricinfo two days before the match against India in Auckland. "I've always been very passionate about playing for Zimbabwe, I still am. I sat down with my wife and we decided to make this decision together. It hasn't been easy. I feel very sad about it but at the same time very excited to be a part of one of the better county sides in England. They've welcomed me with open arms and I'm looking forward to cementing a good relationship with them over the next three years.
"But I'm very, very sad to leave Zimbabwe cricket. I've had some fond memories and I have some great friends here but life goes on and you have to try and make the best decisions for your family and moving forward."
Taylor, 29, has been the lynchpin of Zimbabwe's batting, and has played 23 Tests and 26 T20Is. The match against India will be his 167th ODI. He has 5120 ODI runs and 1493 Test runs, both at an average of 34. He was appointed captain after the 2011 World Cup, as Zimbabwe worked towards a return from a self-imposed exile from Test cricket. He led them to a successful Test comeback later that year, in which he also scored his maiden century, and to a win over Pakistan a month later.
Under Taylor, Zimbabwe seemed a renewed force, despite a sparse fixture list and struggles away from home. As one of the senior-most players in the squad, Taylor played an important part in unifying the players in their off-field battles over unpaid salaries and the formation of a players' association.
He was relieved of the limited-overs' captaincy duties in July last year when Zimbabwe Cricket restructured and split the leadership. Taylor remained in charge of the Test team but Elton Chigumbura took over the job in other formats. Taylor gave the new captain his full support.
He also expressed hope that the leadership of Dav Whatmore, who was appointed Zimbabwe coach a few months ahead of the World Cup, would lift the team's performances in the future.
"Zimbabwe is going to move forward with Dav Watmore, there's no doubt about that. He's been brilliant so far," Taylor said. "We haven't got the results we'd have liked to but he's a very experienced coach and he knows how to get the best out of individuals. So I've no doubt that someone will come in and do a good job there.
"We've got a bit of depth there and some experienced players. The guys need to just step it up a little bit more, take more responsibility, but there's no doubt that the talent's there and some great times are around the corner for Zimbabwe cricket I feel."
Whatmore said Nottinghamshire were "very, very lucky" to have Taylor in their ranks and was confident Zimbabwe could stay strong after Taylor's exit.
"It is true we will be missing Brendon taylor who is be going to Nottingham and they are very very lucky to have him. But, despite that, we feel that we have got a number of players who make this team really strong because of what they offer in terms of their all-round ability," Whatmore said.
Taylor is the second Zimbabwe player to go Kolpak after the Test comeback. Kyle Jarvis signed for Lancashire in August 2013. Sources close to the Zimbabwe side said players have taken the news "surprisingly well" after learning that Taylor that would be moving on.
1.45GMT, March 13: This article was updated following Brendan Taylor's tweet.

Arya Yuyutsu is a multi-media journalist for ESPNcricinfo