The national selectors are picking a squad. Who is the first name that goes on their list? If they're Indian, Virat Kohli; if they're South African, AB de Villiers; if they're Australian, David Warner. And if they're Zimbabwean? Don't feel bad if you drew a blank.

Until last year's fifty-over World Cup, Brendan Taylor might have been the obvious choice, but he has since retired. Hamilton Masakadza springs to mind as the next shoe-in, but even he has had it rough recently and was stripped of the captaincy after just one series in charge. His replacement, Graeme Cremer, has never been the first name on a Zimbabwean team sheet with a stuttering international career that has seen him quit for golf at least once, but now, he finds himself in the unlikely position of leading his country in all three formats.

Cremer's confirmation as Test captain, after taking over the reins for the limited-overs series against India, would have surprised even the man himself. He was taken aback when promoted to the role in the shorter formats and admitted he had not thought of leading before. But now, he has been tasked with taking Zimbabwe through their toughest tests of the last two years, specifically because they are Tests.

Zimbabwe have not played in the longest format in 20 months, since touring Bangladesh in October-November 2014, a series they lost 3-0. They have not played Test cricket at home in almost two years since hosting South Africa in August 2014 for a one-off game, and they have not played Test cricket in Bulawayo in five years. Even if they wanted to look back at recent performances when deciding how to pick a squad for this, it would be futile.

Instead, they have had two A games against South Africa A and two seasons of Logan Cup statistics to base their choices on, but even those could only have helped to some extent. The A games did not include all the Zimbabwean players in national contention and the Logan Cup finished well over four months ago, so selecting the men who will play against New Zealand has not been easy.

For a start, it has involved axing veteran opener Vusi Sibanda, who finished third and fifth on the first-class run charts in the last two seasons respectively, but who, justifiably, seems to have run out of rope to try and translate that onto the international stage. Sixteen years into his international career, Sibanda has a Test average of 21.10, and although the scarcity of the game time he gets in the longest format - Sibanda has played just 14 Tests in that time - is a mitigating factor, his numbers are simply not good enough.

Instead, Zimbabwe are turning to Tino Mawoyo, who has not played international cricket in more than two years, but scored a century in a Test in Bulawayo against Pakistan in 2011, and has been playing for the A side. Mawoyo did not cash in as much as some of his team-mates in the A series, but scored an unbeaten 79 to suggest form is not far away. Either uncapped Prince Masvaure, who scored a century in the A series, or Brian Chari, who made 98, is likely to partner him, with Masakadza set to come in at No. 3.

But it is the No. 4 position which will be the most crucial for Zimbabwe's line-up because it used to be Taylor's. It is there that most teams' batting either prospers or perishes, and it needs someone with experience and a solid temperament to occupy it. Craig Ervine, Sikandar Raza and Peter Moore are all in contention. Ervine topped last season's Logan Cup run charts and has shown the ability to bat in tough situations and push Raza, who brings feistiness but not much recent form, or Moor, who has been in good nick domestically but is yet to play a Test, a bit further down. Whatever Zimbabwe decide, it remains an area of vulnerability for them.

Their lower-middle order will need to be held together by Sean Williams, who will also provide a slower bowling option, and whoever is tasked with keeping wicket. Richmond Mutumbami is the incumbent and Regis Chakabva did the job during the A series, but Moor could also fit the role. In essence, what Zimbabwe have done is give themselves options for every position, perhaps too many options, in a bid to cover all their bases.

The only thing that is certain is that they will go into both Tests with a legspinner, Cremer, which gives them a ready-made attacking option. On what is expected to be a slow, low Queens surface, that means some of the seamers will have to be prepared to do a holding job, which may be why Shingi Masakadza, who was the leading wicket-taker in last season's Logan Cup, was overlooked.

With Tinashe Panyangara out injured, Masakadza may have been a useful new-ball partner to Tendai Chatara. It will be left to Njabulo Ncube, Taurai Muzarabani and Donald Tiripano to tussle for that task. Ncube has returned to Zimbabwe after a two-year coaching stint at a South African school, and last played domestic cricket in the country three years ago. He has not played an international since 2011, when he was part of the Test XI that lost marginally to New Zealand in Bulawayo, and has only added a single ODI cap to his name since. Ncube played one of the A games against South Africa A, where he went wicketless, and was included in the Test squad on that basis, which may leave Brian Vitori, who made his comeback during the A series after six months on the sidelines, feeling a little hard done by.

Although Vitori was expensive and is clearly lacking game time, something common to most of Zimbabwe's players at the moment, his left-arm action would have offered something different. Instead, Zimbabwe have gone for more of the same with Chatara, Ncube, Muzarabani and Tiripano, all of whom are right-arm seamers. Perhaps variation is not on top of their priority list at the moment, but getting value certainly is.

With Zimbabwe not even playing enough Tests to have a ranking yet, they need as many games as possible. They need a lot of other things too - like certainty around the coaching structures, with Makhaya Ntini still occupying the head coach berth although the length of his tenure remains undecided - but matches, especially Test matches, are the most important. With talk of a two-tier Test league growing, Zimbabwe will want to make sure they are competitive enough to play in the second tier, which is inevitably where they will end up if the new structure takes hold soon.

To test themselves, they have two matches against New Zealand now, and are due for two more against Sri Lanka later this year. In between that, they will play domestic competitions and aim to attract more offers from other countries to visit. It's not much, but it's a start to finding out which names to put on the team sheet first.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent