Turmoil as Zimbabwe appoints interim coach; unpaid players threaten strike

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By Associated Press

ZIMBABWE has appointed former India batsman Lalchand Rajput as interim coach amid turmoil after Heath Streak, his backroom staff, the captain and the chairman of selectors were all fired. The players are also on the brink of revolt, saying they haven’t been paid.  Zimbabwe Cricket said Thursday that Rajput would be in charge for the triangular Twenty20 series with Australia and Pakistan in July.

The players have raised the prospect of a strike, saying they haven’t been paid salaries, allowances, match fees and bonuses. In a letter to the board sent by their lawyer, they demanded to know when they would receive their money.

“Failure to do so will, apart from our clients pursuing such legal remedies as may be available to them, place into serious jeopardy the upcoming triangular series,” lawyer Gerald Mlotswa wrote.

Rajput played two tests and four one-day internationals between 1985-87 and has previously coached Afghanistan’s national team and the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.

The firing of Streak and his backroom staff, captain Graeme Cremer and chairman of selectors Tatenda Taibu came in March after Zimbabwe failed to qualify for next year’s 50-over World Cup, the first time it won’t be at the tournament since 1979.

The board’s managing director, former International Cricket Council finance chief Faisal Haisnan, resigned this month. Zimbabwe cricket has been plagued for years by battles between the players and the board over unpaid wages.

Several petitions have been sent to higher authorities, including new President Emmerson Mnangagwa, demanding the removal of the board, the reinstatement of Streak and the appointment of an interim administration with a stronger background in the game.