BRENDAN Taylor arrived in Bulawayo yesterday to join the Zimbabwe cricket team for the five-match ODI series against Bangladesh, ending speculation over his role in the matches.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Taylor jetted into Harare from Australia on Wednesday, joining his teammates here yesterday afternoon ahead of the first one-dayer at the Queens Sports Club on Sunday.
Taylor will play for a Zimbabwe â€œAâ€ side in a warm-up match against Bangladesh at Bulawayo Athletic Club today.
New convener of selectors Alistair Campbell named Taylor in a 15-man squad at a glittering Zimbabwe Cricket Playersâ€™ Awards ceremony in the city on Wednesday night.
Taylorâ€™s absence from the training squad had been criticised in some quarters as a dent on team spirit, especially at a time the team is trying to use collective effort against a Bangladesh side touring on the back of a historic Test and ODI series win over a weakened West Indies side.
Notwithstanding, this team is the best side assembled by Zimbabwe in the last four years or so, perhaps further indication that the country is gradually moving towards the best possible Zimbabwe XI again.
Yet it wasnâ€™t without surprises â€” or controversies if one wants to be dramatic.
The biggest casualty was Forster Mutizwa, the promising wicketkeeper batsman who came to the fore in the 5-0 whitewash of Kenya.
Not that many countries in the world axe one of their best batsman from the immediate previous series, and Mutizwa has every reason to feel hard done by; moreso when you consider that there are three batsmen in the team, Chamu Chibhabha, Charles Coventry and Malcolm Waller, who had an equal if not lesser chance of making the side.
Mutizwa has dropped down to the â€œAâ€ side, captained by suspended national team wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu, to play in the warm-up match at BAC.
Also going down is pace bowler Chris Mpofu. There was also no place in the national side for promising swing bowler Admire Manyumwa, who was heavily tipped to make his debut in the series.
All-rounder Keith Dabengwa is out for a lengthy period with a knee injury.
Taibu, meanwhile, will also lead the â€œAâ€ side in their maiden Intercontinental Cup match against Afghanistan in Mutare starting on August 16.
The Stephen Mangongo-coached side returns to four-day cricket after claiming the scalps of ICC associate teams in a six-match winning streak.
Zimbabwe captain and offspinner Prosper Utseya was crowned Player of the Year at the Awards, edging out fellow spinner Ray Price.
Hamilton Masakadza won the Best Batsman accolade, while Price took the Best Bowler award.
Seam bowler Tawanda Mupariwa was given a special award for beating Eddo Brandesâ€™ record to become the fastest Zimbabwean to 50 ODI wickets.
Dave Ellman-Brown, the dedicated former cricket administrator who served the game for over 40 years, was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement award.
Zimbabwe: Prosper Utseya (captain), Hamilton Masakadza, Mark Vermeulen, Brendan Taylor, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Sean Williams, Elton Chigumbura, Charles Coventry, Vusi Sibanda, Chamu Chibhabha, Malcolm Waller, Ray Price, Tawanda Mupariwa, Graeme Cremer, Ed Rainsford.
Zim â€œAâ€ for warm-up match: Tatenda Taibu (captain), Brendan Taylor, Chamu Chibhabha, Friday Kasteni, Bothwell Chapungu, Forster Mutizwa, Timycen Maruma, Chris Mpofu, Shingi Masakadza, Admire Manyumwa, Natsai Mushangwe, Tafadzwa Kamungozi (12th man), Trevor Garwe (13th man).
Enock Muchinjo in Bulawayo