Zimbabwe rebels and ZCU talks again

Published: Thursday, July 8, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Harare:Lawyers representing the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) and 15 striking white players were in exploratory talks in Harare to see if there is any way to break the three month impasse caused by the sacking of captain Heath Streak.

Alwyn Pichanick, for the Union, and Chris Venturas, for the players, are acting on an International Cricket Council (ICC) instruction to make another attempt at finding resolution to the stand-off.

The ICC gave them 14 days from June 30 to find a solution -- a near impossible task, considering that there has been a hostile stalement through almost 100 days.

Eight of those 14 days were allowed to elapse before discussions between the legal representatives began and on Friday Venturas and seven players still living in Zimbabwe leave for England, where they will join seven others for a three weeks long charity cricket tour.

The ICC is anxious that the dispute is settled domestically, but it has made clear to the ZCU that it has the right to intervene through its disputes resolution sub-committee if there is another failure.

However, this is also a cause of disagreement between the ICC and the ZCU. The ICC claims any decision which might have to be made ultimately by such a sub-committee will have legal standing and be binding. The ZCU, through its chairman Peter Chingoka, disputes this view.

However, the ZCU has said that it is working on what it calls an "alternative mechanism" if the current talks fail. Officials failed to elaborate but it appears to be some form of proposal for a compromise.

The ICC has also not said if they had received any "alternative mechanism" from Harare or just what it is.

Zimbabwe cricket was ripped apart on April 2 when Streak complained to ZCU directors through general manager Vincent Hogg about the make-up of the selection panel and some of their choices, which he claimed put race above merit in some instances.

The directors immediately took exception and they accepted what they saw as Streak's threatened retirement from all forms of cricket, which Streak vehemently denies making.

All the contracted white players demanded his reinstatement. They saw his departure as a sacking. When this was refused they all went on strike, refusing to practice or make themselves available for selection.

Since then, a very young and inexperienced second string was called up to represent Zimbabwe in international matches and were badly beaten by Sri Lanka and Australia. This resulted in Australia declining to play them in Tests, a policy adopted by Pakistan, and by England, who are due to tour Zimbabwe in November for a One-day series.

Following talks in Dubai last month between the ICC, the ZCU and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) representatives of India, South Africa and Australia, it was agreed that the "new" Zimbabwe would be given intensive coaching and that India and South Africa 'A' teams would tour Zimbabwe later this month and in August.

The next Test series for the Zimbabweans will be against Bangladesh in January. This will be a "test" indeed, for Zimbabwe's future as a full Test playing member of the ICC will come under review after that series.

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