Zimbabwe’s players are likely to call off their threatened protest action and play in next month’s T20 triangular series which involves Australia and Pakistan, despite not being paid outstanding salaries and match fees.
Although several top-tier players are yet to take part in the practice matches against a touring Kenyan team, an insider told ESPNcricinfo that talks between Zimbabwe Cricket’s newly-appointed consultant Vince van der Bijl and players’ representative Gerald Mlotchwa had led to an “understanding”. It was understood that ZC would only be able to settle their bills once they receive their next ICC grant in July and it was important that the matches went ahead in the interim.
Zimbabwe’s players are owed two months’ worth of salaries and match fees from their tour to Sri Lanka which took place in July last year. “The players have realised that they are probably not going to get any pay before July and are frustrated that ZC have not communicated with them. They still feel the non-pay is ridiculous and they want to see a payment plan in writing from ZC,” a source told ESPNcricinfo.
The source also confirmed the players had also “come to the realisation that if these matches don’t happen, Zimbabwe Cricket could be finished, especially if you look at the fixtures they have coming up.” Despite being a Full Member, Zimbabwe do not play any Tests in the forseeable future. In the next three months, they are scheduled to play some white-ball cricket only and are due to host Pakistan for five ODIs after the T20 triangular series and then travel to South Africa for three ODIs and three T20s. “For players who hope to make some living from cricket, they have to play in those matches or they won’t have a job.”
Zimbabwe’s preparations for the series have begun with a visit from Kenya, who are playing 20-over matches against Zimbabwean sides, which were compiled with a view to giving interim coach Lalchand Rajput a first look at the players at his disposal. Rajput is yet to properly benefit from that because some players opted out of the first three days of matches.
Last Friday, ZC had named two 15-man squads called Select XI and Board XI (later changed to Chairman’s XI) and while both teams have played against the touring Kenyans, they have not featured several big names. For the Chairman’s XI, Hamilton Maskadza and Peter Moor have not played while for the Select side, Brendan Taylor, Kyle Jarvis, Ryan Burl and Sean Williams are the notable absentees.
However, in the Chairman’s XI, Chamu Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura, John Nyumbu, Richmond Mutumbami, Tendai Chatara and Natsai M’shangwe have played, and in the Select side, Donald Tiripano and Chris Mpofu are the noted names who have turned out, leading to speculation there was a player split looming. Those doubts have now been quelled because “issues are being resolved slowly,” the source said.
By Friday, when matches resume, all the players who were named in the two squads are expected to be available.