Zimbabwe Cricket crisis deepens further

Published: Friday, February 3, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Harare:Zimbabwe's rebel cricketers accused the game's rulers of pursuing a 'divide-and-conquer' strategy as their lawyer considered a last-minute move to end the crisis, which has seen senior players refusing to represent their country.

As the bitter wrangle - which has already seen the country suspend its Test status for the second time in less than two years - dragged on, fourteen players insisted they would not be bullied into submission.

Senior player Hamilton Mazakadsa, who joined team-mates in a queue to receive newly-drafted contracts for their consideration, told AFP: "It's just typical divide and rule."

The new Zimbabwe Cricket chiefs, who were appointed as an interim board in early January by the Zimbabwe government, also told the player's representative and negotiator Clive Field they would no longer deal with him.

They insisted on appointing their own man instead.

But in the one sign of defiance as the group of 14 players gathered in the public car park outside the Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) headquarters to learn about these developments they said they would stick by Field.

"We will have nothing to do with anybody else," said one international.

Meanwhile, the players' newly-appointed legal representative Beatrice Mtetwa decided to hold fire on a letter of summons against ZC demanding around a million dollars in back pay or face High Court proceedings.

She held back after receiving a last-minute letter from a ZC lawyer suggesting that a financial deal might be possible through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

On Wednesday evening many of the players had met and declared afterwards they were "out of here" and "that was it."

One angry player told AFP: "We will pack up cricket altogether or play somewhere else."

They had also agreed in early January to give the newly appointed ZC interim committee a chance to fulfil a "Term of Reference" within a three-week deadline in which new contracts would be presented and accepted.

But they stated immediately after the committee's failure on Tuesday, through Field, that they would demand all the money owing for Test match and ODI fees going back to August and September, plus five months back pay before agreeing to anything.

However, 14 players gathered in the car park below the ZC headquarters here Thursday to be told that new contracts were ready for them to take home and examine.

The messenger was specialist coach and former skipper Andy Pycroft who was sent down to also tell them that Field was no longer acceptable.

Afterwards Field said they would consider the contracts and "make their own decisions."

Thursday's developments came a day after national team manager of 15 years Babu Meman and selector Richie Kaschula were fired.

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