Harare: Zimbabwe will play its first cricket tests in more than five years in one-off home matches against Bangladesh, Pakistan and New Zealand this year.
Australia and South Africa also have agreed to send strong A teams for a tri-series in July to help Zimbabwe prepare for its test return.
Zimbabwe withdrew from tests in January 2006 after senior players boycotted the side in a dispute with the ZC board. An International Cricket Council task force set goals for Zimbabwe in 2008 which were eventually met by the middle of last year, when ICC president David Morgan and chief executive Haroon Lorgat agreed Zimbabwe could start preparing for a return to test status this year.
In a schedule released by Zimbabwe Cricket on Wednesday, it will play Bangladesh in Harare in August, Pakistan in Bulawayo in September, and New Zealand in October or November. All incoming teams will also play limited-overs matches.
Zimbabwe deliberately targeted mid-table test sides for its first games, ZC chairman Peter Chingoka told The Associated Press.
"We are not going to rush it," Chingoka said. "We are going to start with fewer games and increase as we move along.
"I think we have a reasonable chance in those matches against those three teams. What's important is to get into the groove and see if we can go on to play stronger opposition. I'm sure with the amount of four-day cricket we are playing domestically, we will cope well."
Zimbabwe will field its full team against the A sides of Australia and South Africa in a one-day tri-series from July 1-10.
Australia A will add two four-day matches to the trip.
Bangladesh then tour from Aug. 1-21, with a test and five one-day internationals.
A week after Bangladesh's departure, Pakistan arrives for a single test in Bulawayo from Sept. 1-5, plus three ODIs and two Twenty20s.
South Africa will be back to tour from Sept. 21 to Oct. 3, but instead of a test, the Proteas have scheduled three ODIs and two Twenty20s.
New Zealand then will tour from Oct. 21 to Nov. 21 for a test, three ODIs and two Twenty20s.