Zimbabwe are set to end their Test match exile and return to the arena with a series against Bangladesh in 2011, according to Peter Chingoka, the president of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU).
Zimbabwe's Test status was initially suspended in 2005 when internal divisions ravaged the team. The International Cricket Council (ICC) also insisted on a more structured domestic game. However, they have continued to play one-day international cricket in both 50 and 20-over formats.
An ICC delegation, which included the president David Morgan and chief executive Haroon Lorgat, have been in Zimbabwe to inspect the current set-up and the stage is now set for them to rejoin the elite Test cricket circuit.
"After discussions with David Morgan and other senior ICC officials here in recent days we have decided to make our return to Test cricket next year," Chingoka told AFP on Sunday.
"We will be playing a series against Bangladesh in June (2011) to start with though details have not yet been established."
"After that we will pick up on the Forward Test Programme and we will choose who we play against. We have waited three years for this to happen and we are convinced we will be ready for a return."
Under the opt-in programme that Zimbabwe are adopting, it will be some time before they play top sides such as Australia, India and England although neighbouring South Africa have promised to play a one-off Test every year, starting in 2011, Chingoka added.
The ICC have welcomed the announcement saying in a statement: "We will work with them (Zimbabwe) to help them achieve their goal. They have targetted a gradual and responsible return."
Morgan applauded the change in policy which has seen many former players such as Heath Streak and Alistair Campbell, who were frozen out, returning in management positions.
"It is very comforting for the ICC to observe the improvement and success of the Zimbabwe team in recent months," said Morgan.
"It is also very good from an ICC perspective to see former players returning to the squad and also taking up support roles around the team.
"The recent results have been a good story for the Zimbabwe cricket team and the ICC is pleased to have played a part in that progress."
The ICC also applauded the ZCU for following their recommendations for a "strong and competitive" domestic competition. "Domestic cricket is key to producing successful international players and I believe that the franchise system which has been introduced in Zimbabwe is an important step in the right direction," said Lorgat.