BRIDGETOWN, March 11 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe’s stuttering return to test cricket continues in Barbados on Tuesday when they start their first series in more than seven years against West Indies.
Zimbabwe ended a six-year hiatus from test cricket two years ago but have played just four single tests over the last 19 months, leaving them with sparse experience ahead of the Caribbean trip.
The two-test series against the Windies is their first since India toured Zimbabwe in September 2005 after which a player dispute over political interference led to a rapid decline in their fortunes.
The opening encounter in Bridgetown is followed by a second test in Dominica, starting on March 20.
It is the last for Zimbabwe under coach Alan Butcher, who departs his post after the trip, leaving the team’s future direction unclear.
Captain Brendan Taylor was critical last month of a decision to leave home several key support staff from the tour party, including batting coach Grant Flower and bowling coach Heath Streak.
Marlon Samuels returns for the West Indies after a two-month injury break and fast bowler Shannon Gabriel, who debuted at Lords last year, has been recalled.
Offspinner Sunil Narine has been replaced by Shane Shillingford in their 13-man squad.
The West Indies registered a whitewash in three one day internationals and two Twenty20 matches against Zimbabwe over the last three weeks. (Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)