Zimbabwe players plead for international rescue

Published: Friday, December 23, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Fed-up Zimbabwe cricketers, who went out on strike, desperately need help from the International Cricket Council (ICC) if they are to keep on playing.

Their representative Clive Field insisted that many players will be forced to turn their back on the game as the sport in the country goes through another depressing crisis.

"It's a financial issue - these guys are crying out for help," Field told the BBC.

"If they don't see a viable career in cricket they will have to earn a living doing something else.

"It's vital that we try to keep cricket going in Zimbabwe, but these are professional sportsmen who have to make a living.

"I'm personally a bit upset that the ICC has not found the need to become involved by now."

The players went on strike and said they would not travel to next month's Afro-Asian A-team tournament in Bangladesh unless their demands, including the dismissal of Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) chairman Peter Chingoka and managing director Ozias Bvute, and payment of monies owed to them were met.

The Under-23 side would also not travel to neighbouring South Africa to play in cup matches in February.

Last week, the players decided to resume training so that they would be prepared for the tournaments, but they changed their minds because of what was described as "the ongoing failure of ZC to address players concerns, both contractual and governance".

ZC shut its offices without notice a fortnight before Christmas and they are not expected to re-open until mid January.

In an earlier statement put out by Field, on behalf of the Zimbabwe Professional Cricketers Association, it was alleged match fees were paid late or not at all for series against India and New Zealand.

"In the light of the persistent and continued failure by both the Chairman and the managing director of Zimbabwe Cricket to address the legitimate concerns of their players, effective immediately no player will train or avail himself for national duty," said the statement.

Last month former Zimbabwe captain Tatenda Taibu said he would be heading to Bangladesh to resume his career after retiring from international cricket - at the age of 22.

He resigned the captaincy in protest at the alleged mal-administration of Chingoka and Bvute.

Taibu, who is black, became international cricket's youngest captain aged 20 in April last year after he was thrust into the role following a race row that led to the axeing of former skipper Heath Streak.

The row led the ZC to sack a total of 15 senior players, all white, and sparked a chain of events that saw Zimbabwe temporarily suspended from Test cricket.

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