THE resumption of Zimbabwe’s domestic cricket season is still hanging in the balance after local cricket governing body Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) and the players failed to find common ground during their second meeting in Harare on Wednesday.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The two parties were expected to meet for the third time late yesterday in an attempt to try to end an ongoing strike that has already plunged Zimbabwe’s preparations for the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 competition into turmoil.
Cricket sources told NewsDay Sport on Wednesday that the strike looked set to continue after the players refused the ZC board’s proposals during the first meeting last Saturday. According to minutes of the first meeting seen by NewsDay Sport, ZC — who owe Metbank $15 million — proposed to give the players “part payment of the outstanding salaries from a sponsorship deal that is currently being negotiated”.
“The players rejected the board’s proposals and stuck to their original position that they will not take to the field until all the players in the country including the franchise players are paid all their outstanding dues, ie, the salaries and the match fees,” the sources said.
ZC is also said to have promised to pay the players all outstanding amounts on receipt of ICC funds at the end of January 2014 or early February, compensation for all late salary payments and that ideas would be exchanged between ZC and the players.
ZC chairman Peter Chingoka is also said to have expressed confidence that the ZC business plan would be accepted by the world cricket governing body, the ICC.
However, the players insisted they will not play until they receive their salaries, which means there is no fixed date for the resumption of the first-class league.
According to the ZC calendar, domestic cricket matches are expected to resume tomorrow.
Mashonaland Eagles are scheduled to host Southern Rocks in a Pro50 match at Harare Sports Club tomorrow before playing the same opponents in the Logan Cup starting on Monday. In the other matches, defending Logan Cup champions Matabeleland Tuskers were earmarked to host Mountaineers at Queens Sports Club.
Zimbabwean cricketers resorted to industrial action in December last year due to non-payment of salaries and match fees stretching over several months by ZC.
Already, the player strike caused a boycott of some domestic matches and the cancellation of the tour by the Afghanistan cricket team. ZC was also unable to host Sri Lanka late last year because of money problems.
National cricket team captain Brendan Taylor told Associated Press on Tuesday that he was hopeful a solution would be found so that the team would start their preparations for the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in Bangladesh starting in March.
“We feel this has gone on for too long and in the process, we have lost lots of valuable practice time,” Taylor said.
“(We) would want to get over it and concentrate on the core business, which is playing cricket, especially considering that we have the World T20 coming up soon.”