Zimbabwe cricket plunges into yet another crisis

Published: Friday, November 4, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Harare:The crisis in Zimbabwe cricket reached new levels with a damaging stand-off between the national executive body and their provincial chairmen.

The latest sorry chapter in the country's cricket affairs developed after the chairmen's demand for explanations of what they described as "unusual financial dealings" by executives and staff.

The 19-month conflict, which is causing increasing damage to this beleaguered full Test-playing member of the International Cricket Council, reached what appeared to be an irrevocable stand-off after chairman Peter Chingoka reacted angrily to a list of 80 queries about financial dealings directed at the executive, the managing director and staff members.

These are Zimbabwe Cricket's main stakeholders.

The crisis has evolved into increasingly acrimonious racial overtones, especially since former captain Heath Streak complained in April 2004 of racially motivated selections of the national teams, which immediately resulted in his sacking, and then by a strike of 14 other white senior players in his support.

The ZC executive board is mainly black or Asian and the provincial administrators mainly white.

Efforts by both parties to try to eliminate racial overtones have all but failed.

The chairmen's letter referred to the financial dealings called for a response inside seven days.

A copy was sent to the International Cricket Council (ICC), which is known to have discussed it internally.

Chingoka replied that most of the answers could be found through various routine information channels and should therefore already be known to the provinces.

Other points were simply routine matters, he suggested.

His response was included in the article headlined "The Battle for Cricket" which took up the entire back page of the daily Herald newspaper here Thursday.

The chairmen have arranged an urgent meeting in Harare, having travelled from all parts of the country, to decide whether to take Chingoka and his managing director Osias Bvute to court.

"This would be intended to force out proper answers", said one who preferred to remain anonymous.

The chairmen are undecided as to whether to declare a special general meeting in order to submit a motion of no confidence in the ZC board of directors.

Meanwhile a High Court hearing in chambers is scheduled for Friday to examine whether West Indian coach Phil Simmons has had his contract properly terminated, as claimed by ZC, and that he should therefore leave the country.

Simmons says he hasn't received a formal termination letter and he refuses to budge.

If the case goes against Simmons he will have lost his employment permit and must leave the country within seven days according to an Immigration Department official, unless he appeals to the Harare Supreme Court.

The case is one more irritant for Zimbabwe cricket.

Simmons claims ZC owes him almost two years fees under his three years contract, which has almost two to run.

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