ZIMBABWE’S domestic cricket competitions will not resume as scheduled this weekend after a deadlock between the national union and players over unpaid salaries and bonuses.
The two groups met last Saturday, Wednesday and on Thursday but no solution was reached.
The development means the fifty-over matches between the Eagles and Rocks in Harare and Tuskers and Mountaineers in Bulawayo as well as the four-day fixtures between the same teams which were due to begin on Monday have been cancelled.
In December, when the players first went on strike, Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) said they could not “provide guarantees of specific dates” for payments but remained “committed to paying November salaries at the earliest possible time”.
Now ZC has said they are talking to a potential sponsor and are also hoping to receive $3 million from the International Cricket Council (ICC) for the Word Cup T20, although that could be chewed up by a $15 million loan they have to pay to a local bank, Metbank.
It is understood the ICC was only willing to consider providing the amount if they receive an audit from ZC explaining their financial situation.
Although neither party could confirm whether the loan was still in the works, Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor hinted something was in the works when he tweeted
“Hopefully @cricketicc can pull some strings,” on January 7.
Two days later, Taylor also urged his team-mates to start practising, an activity they have also boycotted, ahead of Zimbabwe’s next international assignment, the World T20 in March.
“Two months before we travel to Bangladesh for the T20 world cup. Let’s get training,” hewrote.
Zimbabwe have not played any international cricket since Pakistan toured the country in September. A planned trip by Sri Lanka was cancelled because of lack of funds, a problem that also scuppered Afghanistan’s proposed visit.
On Friday, ZC issued the following statement: “Zimbabwe Cricket has moved the resumption of the domestic season from the scheduled 18th of January to a date that will be advised in due course.
“In a meeting in Harare last night (Thursday) to look at the resumption, it was agreed that the 18th of January is not feasible because the players, who have been on a long festive season break, need time to work on their fitness and match-preparedness.Advertisement
Zimbabwe Cricket officials told the meeting of the efforts that they are making to raise the money to pay the outstanding salaries and match fees.
In response, the players’ representative Eliah Zvimba said the players are focusing on preparing for the resumption of the domestic league and possible selection into the Zimbabwe squad for the International Cricket Council World Twenty20 tournament in Bangladesh starting in March.
Urging ZC to ensure that its efforts bear fruit as early as possible, Zvimba emphasised to the players the need to maintain their focus on preparing for the resumption of the season so that the fund-raising efforts continue unhindered and the season begins on a competitive
“The ZC board and management remain engaged in strenuous efforts with local and international partners to raise the money to pay all our outstanding obligations,” said the ZC chairman Peter Chingoka.
“The players are committed to their game. They are serious about their careers and will keep preparing for the resumption of the domestic season while I continue talks with ZC,” said Zvimba.
The appointment of Zvimba by the players brings communication between them and ZC on par with international best practice.
Zvimba, a practising umpire, is former managing director of Zimbabwe Indoor Cricket. He is a renowned labour practitioner who will advise and guide the players on their labour-related issues, aided by his cricket background.