Harare – Zimbabwe have included former England Test batsman Gary Ballance in a 15-man squad for three Twenty20 internationals against Ireland in Harare during January.
The 33-year-old left-handed batter, who was born in the southern Africa country, represented England in 23 Tests and 16 one-day internationals.
He scored 1 498 Test runs at an average of 37.45 and 297 ODI runs at an average of 21.21 during a five-year England career that began in 2013.
After being released from county side Yorkshire with two years of his contract still to run, Ballance signed a two-year deal to play domestic and international cricket for Zimbabwe.
Ballance admitted using racist language against Azeem Rafiq, a Pakistan-born player who triggered wholesale changes at Yorkshire after accusing the club of institutional racism.
Ballance later apologised to Rafiq in person.
Ballance in Zimbabwe squad for T20I series against Ireland
— Zimbabwe Cricket (@ZimCricketv) January 4, 2023
“I’m thrilled to be joining Zimbabwe Cricket and cannot wait to start work with some great coaches and talented players,” Ballance has said.
“The opportunity to represent Zimbabwe has given me a new-found passion and excitement for the game.”
A notable absentee from the Zimbabwe squad is star batsman Sikandar Raza, who has been authorised to play franchise cricket in Bangladesh.
The Pakistan-born all-rounder has been shortlisted for three 2022 International Cricket Council awards – Cricketer of the Year, ODI Cricketer of the Year and T20I Cricketer of the Year.
There are four changes to the Zimbabwe squad that competed at the T20 World Cup last year in Australia, where a 31-run victory over Ireland helped them reach the Super 12 stage.
The T20 series will be played in Harare on January 12, 14 and 15, and be followed by three ODI matches on January 18, 21 and 23.
West Indies will play two Tests in Zimbabwe during February and the Netherlands are due in March for a three-match ODI series.
Craig Ervine (capt), Gary Ballance, Ryan Burl, Tendai Chatara, Bradley Evans, Luke Jongwe, Innocent Kaia, Clive Madande, Wesley Madhevere, Tadiwanashe Marumani, Wellington Masakadza, Tony Munyonga, Richard Ngarava, Victor Nyauchi, Sean Williams