HARARE – THE disconnect between players and their boards at the lower end of Test cricket has come to the fore once again, with Zimbabwe’s franchise cricketers refusing to take the field for the start of the first-class season on Tuesday.
It is the second time in a year that Zimbabwe’s domestic players have gone on strike over wages and contractual issues, and comes less than a month after the West Indies players quit a tour of India following a protracted pay structure dispute between the players, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the West Indies Players’ Association.
That action has put the very future of West Indies cricket in doubt with the Board of Control for Cricket in India presenting a big damages claim to the WICB, whose last set of accounts showed a bank balance only marginally in the black.
Zimbabwe Cricket’s financial problems are equally well known and led to the number of franchises being cut from five to four for the new season, while player salaries have been restructured.
The ZC only confirmed their contract offers on Friday, two days before the season began with a round of limited-overs fixtures, with the highest earners promised $1500 per month and the lowest getting just $300.
Zimbabwe’s harsh tax laws mean the players would only take home about half of those amounts, and they would still need to pay 40 per cent of their medical aid costs out of their own pockets.
A wider issue is ZC’s delay in signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Zimbabwe Professional Cricketers’ Association, who have been waiting for feedback on the document since April.
“As long as our issues are not addressed there is no way that we can keep playing,” ZPCA representative Eliah Zvimba told AFP. “This is the only language (ZC) understand.
“We had September, we had October and now it’s November. We were supposed to have discussed these issues without rushing, but that’s not happened.”
ZC subsequently confirmed that they would meet with Zvimba on Friday to discuss the issues, leading Zvimba to urge the players to take the field on Wednesday.
However he said that further strike action would be forthcoming if no agreement was reached with ZC. -Â Sapa-AFP