HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsMinister Langa, stop the rot at Zimbabwe Cricket

Minister Langa, stop the rot at Zimbabwe Cricket

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On Sunday, Zimbabwe’s domestic cricket competition, which is meant to help local players prepare for next year’s ICC World Twenty20 competition in Bangladesh, was thrown into turmoil after national team players boycotted domestic cricket matches over unpaid salaries.

NewsDay Editorial

Just on Friday, the cricketers had threatened to go on strike following delays in the payment of their salaries and had given their board a deadline of Sunday to pay up. It was learnt that players on national contracts had not received payments for the last four months, while dues to players on domestic contracts had been delayed by two months.

Furthermore, national team players have also reportedly not received match fees for the Pakistan series in September where they made the nation proud by recording a historic Test victory over the subcontinent nation.

This came as domestic players from the Mountaineers franchise, and a few senior players of the Mashonaland Eagles team, refused to take the field for a Pro50 game in Mutare on Sunday, following through with a threatened boycott over unpaid salaries.

The players extended their deadline to yesterday telling Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) that unless monies appear in their accounts, the four-day fixture, scheduled to start today, will also not go ahead. This is a sad development not only for the country, but the sport of cricket.

What makes the situation more disappointing is the fact that the crisis at ZC has continued unabated even during a time when we now have a stand-alone Sports ministry. So far the ministry has remained silent while the players — ZC’s most important employees — are struggling to make ends meet despite toiling day in day out to fly the country’s flag high under very difficult circumstances.

We call on Sports, Arts and Culture minister Andrew Langa to engage the authorities at ZC so that a lasting solution can be found.

It is such poor conditions that are pushing players such as Kyle Jarvis and Gary Ballance to leave the country for better opportunities and this exodus could drag the game down.

In August, Jarvis retired from international cricket and vowed never to return to play cricket in Zimbabwe after another stand-off with the board over payment issues.

Other players such as Craig Ervine, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Greg Lamb and Graeme Cremer have also called time on their promising international careers as the local game’s financial crisis continues to take a toll on the players.

Despite the enormous potential that Zimbabwean cricket possesses, it will all come to naught if the country continues to lose talented cricketers because of poor working conditions.

We understand that ZC has asked the ICC for an additional loan of $3 million, but the ICC may only agree to that if ZC provided an audit of the funds they received from the Targeted Assistance and Performance Programme earlier this year.

This points to some funds being abused by authorities at ZC for the funds are reported to have been used to pay match fees for the Pakistan series, over which the Zimbabwe players threatened to strike.

We believe Langa must get involved and stop the rot at ZC.

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