ZIMBABWE’S preparations for next month’s International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 (T20) competition suffered yet another major blow after the domestic competition which was scheduled to get underway at Harare Sports Club failed to take off yesterday.
The domestic T20 competition between Mashonaland Eagles and Midwest Rhinos was called off without a ball bowled.
Local players, who had been promised to get their outstanding salaries yesterday, refused to take to the field after failure by Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) to pay outstanding salaries and allowances.
ZC had pledged to pay the players, who had been on strike since December last year after being promised a $3 million loan by the ICC.
However, ZC was until yesterday still awaiting confirmation of the ICC loan.
Player representative Eliah Zvimba addressed the players in the morning as the ground staff, the security and organisers were busy putting the final touches to the match venue.
As news filtered through that the match would not take place, the players took to playing social soccer at the match venue.
“I think now we have to be very factual about the situation. We are saying players will keep practising on their own to keep fit, there’s no formal thing we can say let’s do it this way,” he said.
According to information seen by NewsDay Sport, centrally contracted players are owed a total of $217 586, 96 in outstanding salaries and match fees dating back to August last year.
Zvimba said while the centrally contracted players were given
allowances for returning to training last week, the franchise players were yet to get anything.
“Contracted players were given something to come for training, but it was basically for a week. The week has since elapsed, so how do you expect them to continue coming for training?” Zvimba asked.
“It was like an operational allowance for getting to and from practice which also did not do well for us as we are saying they are not the only players in the country. Why not do the same to Rocks players, to Mountaineers or the players from other franchises.
“There was also confirmation that the chief executive officers from the franchises would immediately engage the players and make sure that the money for transport is readily available for the players and this never happened. All the players are here and no one received anything.”
National team players are terribly short of match practise ahead of the World Cup T20 as they have not played international cricket since September.
Sri Lanka’s tour to Zimbabwe, scheduled for last October and the limited-overs series against Afghanistan that was due to take place in January and an offer to play off a one-off Test against South Africa were all cancelled because of the player boycott.
The country’s premier first class cricket tournament, the Logan Cup and Pro50 Championship matches were called off in mid-December, when the players decided to go on strike over non-payment of dues.