Zimbabwe cricket faces fresh player backlash

Published: Sunday, September 4, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Harare:A row over contracts between Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) and its players is threatening to develop into the kind of ugly strike that brought cricket to its knees here 18 months ago.

The ZC had offered captain Tatenda Taibu, vice-captain Heath Streak and all-rounder Andy Blignaut renewed contracts, but withdrew offers made to Stuart Carlisle, Craig Wishart, Barney Rogers and Neil Ferreira after the first two refused to take part in Sunday's one day international against India.

Other players have been told that their contracts would be considered at the end of this month, depending on how they perform in the next few weeks.This has upset the players.

Carlisle told AFP: "This could be even just as serious for cricket here than the last dispute 18 months ago because this time the black players are with us."

Carlisle was at the forefront of the 2004 strike sparked by Streak's sacking for complaining about alleged racism by the selectors.

He was one of 15 contracted players, all white, who backed Streak and were fired in turn.

This set off months of negotiations characterised by hostilities and legal confrontations.

Carlisle said at his Harare home Saturday that he told coach Kevin Curran he did not want to play against India, nor did Wishart. They preferred, he said, for lower level players to be given the experience.

Carlisle said this was reported by Curran to ZC general manager Osias Bvute, who "immediately withdrew my contract and those of the others".

The experienced Zimbabwe top order batsman, who has played in 37 Tests and 112 internationals for his country, now faces the end of his international cricket career, together with Wishart, Rogers and Ferreira, the latter playing in just one match against New Zealand last month.

Carlisle said: "I have plans in hand, but I cannot say what they are."

Carlisle and Grant Flower, who is now with Essex, were the most outspoken of the players during their 2004 dispute with ZC (at that time the Zimbabwe Cricket Union).

All the affected contract players have held several meetings during the last two days and will have another one on Monday concerning the issue.

Their representative, Clive Field, has held at least one meeting with Bvute, but the outcome is not known. Bvute was not available for comment.

Those newly contracted are also unhappy with the overall situation and have been involved in meetings with the others, Field said.

Streak commented: "I can confirm that there are to be further talks on this issue next week. Other than that I should not discuss it."

Meanwhile Streak will not be playing against India Sunday due to an injured leg picked up in Bulawayo last week resulting in some blood clotting.

"I have had surgery and will need rest for up to 10 days," he said.

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