HARARE – Zimbabwe senior player Sean Williams has welcomed former England batter Gary Ballance’s switch of allegiance to the African team, saying the move will lift a perpetually struggling batting line-up.

Batting all-rounder Williams was Zimbabwe’s captain at the 2006 Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka, leading a squad that included a then 16-year-old Ballance.

Harare-born Ballance would however migrate to the UK, going on to enjoy a senior career with England, featuring in 23 Tests and 16 ODIs for the Three Lions between 2014 and 2017.

After being released by English county side Yorkshire in December, it was promptly announced that the 33-year-old Ballance would return to his native Zimbabwe to sign a two-year contract, having completed the four-year qualification period required to change international teams.

“It is very exciting to have Gary around, and to be back in the same team again,” batting all-rounder Williams told SportsCast at the weekend.

“Last time we played together was Zim Under-19s, in the World Cup, so it’s been a long time since we played together. Just to have him back, with the wealth of experience he’s gained, and the high standard of cricket that he has played, is huge for us as a team, its massive.”

After agreeing a deal with Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC), Ballance will immediately be thrown into the fray after he was included in a 15-man squad for the forthcoming white-ball series against touring Ireland.

Zimbabwe and the Irish will clash in three ODIs and three T20Is in Harare beginning this week.

Williams, who captains Zimbabwe in Tests, believes Ballance will have a positive impact on his new international teammates.

“Having new ways, new things, some advice, will go a long way,” commented Williams.

 “Just also, having him back in the batting line-up, is huge, it’s massive in that area. In that area, we have struggled not only now, but as long as I can think of Zimbabwe cricket, we have always struggled with the bat. Having him back is good for us in the top-order. So I wish him all the best, I hope he does well, and I’m happy that he is able to come home. The boys are very excited to have him around. I’m extremely happy that a fellow left-hander is here, so our batting line-up is just full of lefties.”


Craig Ervine (captain), Gary Ballance, Ryan Burl, Tendai Chatara, Brad Evans, Luke Jongwe, Innocent Kaia, Clive Madande, Wessly Madhevere, Tadiwanashe Marumani, Wellington Masakadza, Tony Munyonga, Richard Ngarava, Victor Nyauchi, Sean Williams.


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