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India-Zim Test series may be off

A looming contract crisis between Zimbabwe Cricket and its players could abort the forthcoming Test series against India.

india Updated: Sep 04, 2005 13:24 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

A looming contract crisis between Zimbabwe Cricket and its players could abort the forthcoming Test series against India later this month.

"The Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) has given us September 14 as the date by which they should be able to work out on the contentious issues," said Clive Field, a representative of the Zimbabwe Players' Cricket Association (ZPCA) who did not rule out the possibility of the two Tests being cancelled.

"We then would be midway through the first Test and have no option to go that far but after that it's anybody's guess," he said.

Field was hopeful that ZC would be able to see the logic of players' point of view and work out a satisfactory deal for at stake is the survival of Zimbabwe cricket.

ZC, on Wednesday, announced it would offer extension of contract to only three of the 10 players from the past season. The rest would be on monthly retainer basis as they haven't performed up to the expectations, claimed ZC.

"All of them will get basic fees. If they want more, they will have to perform. We want to make selection more competitive so players can deliver. So far we were basically rewarding inefficiency," said ZC manager Wiflred Mundondiwa.

So far the junior players were said to be receiving up to 250 million Zim dollars (approx $6,000) a year. The figure for seniors was 600 million Zim dollars (approx $15000).

The ZC has also put forward the criteria for judging a good performance, a score of at least 50 runs or taking three wickets which could allow cricketers to earn more.

The three players retained on the existing contracts are captain Tatenda Taibu, vice-captain Heath Streak and senior player Andy Blignaut.

The two Tests against India are scheduled in Bulawayo (September 13-18) and Harare (September 20-24).

Though unhappy, Field said for the time being they have no option but play Sunday's game against India in the triangular series.

"For the moment we are going ahead with Sunday's game. We will have another meeting with ZC on Monday and foresee a series of meeting between the two parties till September 14," said Field.

Field said the players were being offered only Zim dollars 20 million as retainership which wasn't "liveable," he said.

"The players agree the performance hasn't been good. But they want liveable income. If you take away 40 per cent tax cut from the money offered, it gives players only 10 or 12 million Zim dollars.

"It obviously is not enough. The rising inflation rates have made things four times costlier in the last few months. It is not sustainable," said Field.

Field also said it was difficult to see how the performance of the players could be evaluated in the said manner.

"Suppose if somebody is on 46 and the team needs an asking rate of six an over. Should a concerned player think about self and go for his half century or should he put the team ahead?" he added.

Field said Zimbabwe has lost at least 40 cricketers in the past two years because they couldn't survive from the income they were making from the game.

"The players' resources are being depleted all the time. Everyone is aware of it. We don't want to lose more players."

"All we are asking for is liveable income for the cricketers. Hopefully, ZC will see the light."

"The players realise they are in a position to press their point. The game needs administration as much as it needs players. It's a two-way street." said Field.

"The position of the three senior players retained on existing contract is that it takes eleven to make a team and they would like to go with the team."

Field said the players were unhappy about the manner in which the issue was handled.

"First, we expected the issue to be handled by 19th of August. It didn't happen. We didn't want to handle it in the middle of the triseries."

"Secondly, the manner in which ZC delivered the verdict was akin to stating a verdict. They didn't take the players into confidence or negotiate the issue with them. It is this which is upsetting the players," he said.

First Published: Sep 03, 2005 17:29 IST