Former England batsman Garry Ballance says he is thrilled to get the opportunity to represent his country of birth Zimbabwe after agreeing a two year contract with Zimbabwe Cricket.
Harare-born Ballance played for Zimbabwe at Under-19 level before moving to England in 2006 as a schoolboy.
He went on to play 23 tests and 16 one-day internationals for his adopted nation before falling out of favour.
Balance has been in the limelight for the wrong reasons in England and after recently apologising for using racist language against his former Yorkshire teammate Azeem Rafiq.
The left-handed batter was early this week released from his contract with county cricket side Yorkshire and with requisite three years having passed since Ballance last wore England colours; he will be eligible to play for Zimbabwe after agreeing a deal with ZC.
The 33-year-old, who has not played for England since a 2017 test at Nottingham said he is excited to get the opportunity to represent Zimbabwe.
He could make his international debut for the Chevrons next month when they host Ireland for three ODIs and three Twenty20 Internationals
“I’m thrilled to be joining Zimbabwe Cricket and can’t wait to start work with some great coaches and talented players,” Ballance said.
“The opportunity to represent Zimbabwe has given me a new-found passion and excitement for the game.
“I have kept in touch with a number of people within Zimbabwe cricket over the years and it has been great to watch their recent progress especially.”
Zimbabwe Cricket’s director of cricket Hamilton Masakadza said they are elated by the return of Ballance, who is expected to add some much needed experience to Zimbabwe’s batting department.
“We are elated to have Gary, an immensely talented and experienced cricketer, back home where it all started for him,” Masakadza said.
“He is a great addition to our domestic and international set-up and we are looking forward to him making a massive difference for us.”
Balance represented England in 23 Tests, scoring four centuries at an average of 37.45, as well as 16 one-day internationals between 2014 and 2017.
Before his move to the UK, the former Peterhouse College student represented Zimbabwe at the ICC Under-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup in 2006.