Lara World Cup boost for Zimbabwe

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Harare, Jan 12 (AFP) Former West Indies batsman BrianLara will join the 15-man Zimbabwe cricket squad forpreparations ahead of the ICC World Cricket Cup to be held inIndia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka beginning in February.

Lara, who holds the Test world record score of 400 runs,will be joined by Hampshire''s high scoring all-rounder ofseven years standing, Sean Ervine, when they train in Dubaiand also at an India venue from February 1.

Zimbabwe will play two warm-up matches there and two morein India, prompting national coach Alan Butcher of England tostate that they will be better or as well prepared for theWorld Cup as any of their 13 rivals.

Ervine will join his young brother Craig in the squad ona three-year contract, signed over Christmas, but will remainwith the England County side as an overseas player.

He has been with Hampshire since soon after the racialand financial dispute between the Zimbabwe Cricket Union andits players in 2002/3 which all but destroyed top levelcricket here.

Not selected is Zimbabwe''s best known batsman HamiltonMasakadza, whose form has deteriorated. Masakadza scored acentury against West Indies on his Test debut at 18 years oldand was player of the year here in 2009.

Commenting on the squad, Alan Butcher said it includesworld class spinners in Graeme Cremer, Ray Price (nephew ofthree-time major golf champion Nick Price) and Gregory Lamband there was decent depth to the batting.

Even after its 2010 ODI record of six victories (two ofthese against India and Sri Lanka) and 15 defeats, he expectedZimbabwe to perform well, especially following recent ODI tourexperience in Bangladesh, one of their Group venues.

The squad: Elton Chigumbura (capt), Regis Chakabva,Charles Coventry, Graeme Cremer, Craig Ervine, Sean Ervine,Gregory Lamb, Shingirai Masakadza, Chris Mpofu, Ray Price,Edward Rainsford, Tatenda Taibu, Brendan Taylor, ProsperUtseya and Sean Williams. Manager Lovemore Banda. (AFP) SHN

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