Harare: Zimbabwe coach Heath Streak says returning players Brendan Taylor and Kyle Jarvis have already made a positive impact on the team even before the first Test against West Indies that starts on Saturday.
Batsman and former captain Taylor, and fast bowler Jarvis have made themselves available for Zimbabwe once again after giving up internationals to pursue careers in English county cricket. Taylor and Jarvis last played a Test in 2014 and 2013 respectively, but the two are certain to feature in the two-match series against the West Indians in Bulawayo after returning home to resume their Zimbabwe careers.
"They bring a lot to the team, the value and intensity they are going to add is massive," Streak told The Associated Press on Thursday. "We are going to try tap into their experience of playing in those professional setups in England. Hopefully they are going to share that experience with the current players.
"They bring a lot to the side. You can already see that. With them around, the atmosphere in the squad is magnificent and everyone is looking forward to playing around them and learning from them. It will rub off on the rest of the squad. These are top-class players, and we shouldn't have lost them in the first place."
Taylor and Jarvis both said that guarantees of financial security and the involvement of respected figures in the administration and coaching structures were behind their decisions to return home. It wasn't always that way for Zimbabwe, with player strikes and payment issues common at one time.
Now, former International Cricket Council (ICC) finance officer Faisal Hasnain is the Zimbabwe board's managing director and ex-national captains Streak and Tatenda Taibu are head coach and chief selector respectively. Haisnan, Taibu and Streak were all involved in luring Taylor and Jarvis back. Taibu, in particular, spent time with both in England.
Another enticement was recent results, which suggest Zimbabwe is on the up after years of underperforming. Zimbabwe won a one-day series 3-2 in Sri Lanka in July and nearly upset the hosts in the one-off Test.
West Indies come off a series in England where it lost 2 -1 but emerged with positives, particularly the outstanding performance to win the second Test by chasing down 322 on the final day.
"We must not get complacent," fast bowler Kemar Roach said. "We're in Zimbabwe. Yes they're under us (in the rankings) but I believe they're a very good team. They have some very good players, some good experienced players ... and they're in home conditions so they know the conditions better than us.
"I think once we go out there with that same mentality we had in the second Test in England, I think we'll do a very good job," added Roach/