Gary Ballance is set to make his bow for Zimbabwe after he was named in the squad for this month’s three-match Twenty20 international (T20I) series against Ireland.
The left-handed batter – who played 23 Tests and 16 one-day internationals for England between 2014 and 2017 – recently signed a two-year contract to play domestic and international cricket in and for the country of his birth following his release from county cricket side Yorkshire.
He is one of the four changes made to the 15-man side that represented Zimbabwe at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia in September-October.
Star all-rounder Sikandar Raza – who is in the running for the ICC Men’s Cricketer of the Year, ICC Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Year and ICC Men’s T20I Cricketer of the Year awards – will not feature in the series against Ireland after Zimbabwe Cricket granted him the permission to play franchise cricket elsewhere.
Pace bowler Blessing Muzarabani, who is recovering from a quadriceps injury, has also missed out on selection alongside wicketkeeper-batter Regis Chakabva and batter Milton Shumba.
Apart from Ballance, the other new faces in the squad are Tadiwanashe Marumani, Innocent Kaia and Victor Nyauchi.
With captain Craig Ervine, Sean Williams, Tendai Chatara and Richard Ngarava all available, Zimbabwe will be at near-full strength when they face Ireland at Harare Sports Club.
The T20I matches will be played on 12, 14 and 15 January, all scheduled to start at 1:00 pm local time.
This will be followed by the three-match ODI series between the two sides set for 18, 21 and 23 January, also at Harare Sports Club.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Cricket and Cricket Ireland have agreed to move the second one-day international (ODI) match between their senior men’s teams in Harare this month to a Saturday.
That game was originally scheduled for Friday, 20 January, but it will now be played on Saturday, 21 January.
The rest of the schedule remains unchanged, with the first ODI set for Wednesday, 18 January, and the third and final taking place on Monday, 23 January.
All the matches will be played at Harare Sports Club.
ZIMBABWE T20I SQUAD VERSUS IRELAND:
Ervine Craig (captain), Ballance Gary, Burl Ryan, Chatara Tendai, Evans Bradley, Jongwe Luke, Kaia Innocent, Madande Clive, Madhevere Wessly, Marumani Tadiwanashe, Masakadza Wellington, Munyonga Tony, Ngarava Richard, Nyauchi Victor, Williams Sean