Zimbabwe player strike threatens West Indies tour

Published: Friday, January 6, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Harare:Zimbabwe's cricketers say they will not go to the West Indies in May for a Test and ODI tour unless their contracts are agreed, they are paid match fees going back to August last year, and if chairman Peter Chingoka remains in office.

Senior professional and all-rounder Andy Blignaut told AFP: "We would be expremely sorry about this. We do not wish to damage the ICC tours programme nor make things difficult for West Indies.

"But we have no option but to carry this through. We are hoping all these issues can be resolved. But I must say that at present the prospects look bleak.

"We are all determined about our course of action. It represents our only hope of proper treatment."

Two weeks ago the players informed Bangladesh they would not be sending an under-21 team to Dakha for the annual ICC sanctioned Afro-Asian tournament. They were due to leave Harare on Saturday.

The 37 Zimbabwe players under contracts that expired last September and which have not been renegotiated, made it clear in October through former captain Tatenda Taibu that they would not be available as long as Chingoka remained in his post.

Chingoka and Zimbabwe Cricket managing director Osias Bvute were last year investigated and interrogated by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and eventually arrested on allegations of financial misconduct.

They were detained for two nights, but released without conditions on the orders of the attorney general.

Sources who resigned from cricket management two years ago say here that West Indies would already have made hotel, road and air transport bookings for the tour and would have negotiated with a TV company.

"They will be very angry for sure if Zimbabwe cancels" one said. "This would be fresh and dangerous ground for Zimbabwe. Test and ODI tours are simply not scrubbed out in this way. There would be recriminations."

Meanwhile the players, several directors and all the provincial chairmen have been waiting almost four weeks for a response from the government's Sports Commission to their suggestion for an interim five-man management committee.

They had hoped this could enable Zimbabwe Cricket to continue in operation while efforts are made to sort out the deepening impasse.

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