Zimbabwe players refuse contract offers

Published: Saturday, February 4, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Harare:Zimbabwe cricketers have turned down fresh offers of new contracts by the sport's ruling body here in the latest twist to the chaos wracking the country's cricket set-up.

The cricketers decided late Friday to refuse fresh deals for salaries the equivalent of 1,200 US dollars down to 450 dollars within three grades of senior, intermediate and junior.

The 25 players are also refusing to play in two sponsored inter-provincial matches scheduled for Sunday.

Their decision came after about 15 of the players were believed by colleagues to be inclined to take the contract offers because after six months without pay plus overdue Test match and ODI fees they were very short of money.

But after getting together formally under their association banner these 15 players changed their minds after persuasion. They all also took the opportunity to reaffirm their decision not to play for Zimbabwe in any representative cricket while chairman Peter Chingoka remains in place.

Details were given to AFP by two of the players Saturday, but they asked not to be named "because we are nervous about possible reprisals."

Their decision also probably means the cancellation of a scheduled tour to Zimbabwe by Kenya later this month.

And it almost certainly means that Zimbabwe will not be able to persuade West Indies to go through with a One-Day International series there in April and May.

The players' decision was passed to Zimbabwe Cricket coach Kevin Curren early Saturday.

The contract saga began Thursday when 14 players were called individually into the Zimbabwe Cricket office to be told what they were being offered.

One said afterwards: "They gave us the figures they came up with and said if we thought we were worth more we should argue why. They said their offers were based on attitude and performance."

Dion Ebrahim, former vice captain and with 22 Tests experience, was not made an offer at all. He was told: "You haven't performed for two years."

Their strike of more than six months is now reinforced. The players will soon be meeting their lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa who has withheld a summons against Zimbabwe Cricket to appear in the High Court and answer claims for unpaid salaries and match fees amounting to about one million US dollars.

Mtetwa was not available to say whether that would now be re-activated.

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