Zimbabwean franchise Southern Rocks have signed former West Indies batsman Brian Lara and former England fast bowler Ryan Sidebottom for the Stanbic Bank Twenty20 competition, which starts on November 13 in Harare.
Sidebottom, 32, played 22 Tests, 25 ODIs and 18 Twenty20s for England, including the recent World Twenty20 triumph in the Caribbean, in an international career that spanned nine years before his international retirement in September. Lara, for many years regarded alongside Sachin Tendulkar as one of the best batsmen of his era, retired after the 2007 World Cup and has not played much competitive cricket since.
However, Lara had a stint with the unofficial Indian Cricket League in 2007-08, where he had a forgettable tournament with the bat and as captain of Mumbai Champs, and has maintained ambitions of coming out of retirement to try his hand at Twenty20 - a format that hadn't taken off internationally when he retired.
He was briefly in talks to play for Surrey in the English domestic Twenty20 tournament last season, and though those discussions fell through Lara was part of the MCC team that played the touring Pakistanis in a Twenty20 at Lord's in June, striking a 32-ball 37 before he was bowled by an Umar Gul yorker.
"We have signed Sidebottom and we have also confirmed the Lara deal, so we are done with the acquisition of new personnel and we are just ready to get going," Rocks chief executive Givemore Makoni told the Zimbabwe Independent.
"It was a bad season the last time on but we have achieved good results in the competitions that have been played so far. In Sidebottom we signed a player who has proven himself on the big stage and with Lara we just have got ourselves the best batsman to grace the game of cricket."
Rocks also secured the services of Stuart Matsikenyeri and Tatenda Taibu before the start of the current season, but have lost Sean Ervine, who has signed for Mutare-based franchise Mountaineers.