Sixteen Zimbabwe cricketers sign with ZC

Published: Thursday, February 9, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Harare:Newly set salaries, match appearance fees and performance bonuses have brought an end to Zimbabwe's professional cricketers' four-month strike.

Sixteen of 23 players offered terms have signed new contracts, four are having medical assessments before getting their offers, two have declined and one has yet to make a decision.

The sudden breakthrough came after most of the players were tempted by salaries up 115 million Zimbabwe dollars (about 1150 US dollars), team appearance money of 100 million Zimbabwe dollars against Kenya when they arrive next week for a five-match series of One-day matches, a further 100 million Zimbabwe dollars for wins within that series, plus special individual awards for bowlers getting three wickets and batsmen over 50 runs.

Those who have signed are Andy Blignaut, Elton Chigumbura, Charles Coventry, Keith Dabengwa, Terry Duffin, Anthony Ireland, Blessing Mahwire, Bernard Mlambo, Chris Mpofu, Tawanda Mpariwa, Allan and Waddington Mwayenga, Edward Rainsford, Vusi Sibanda, Gregory Strydom and Prosper Utseya.

Former Test all-rounder Stuart Matsikenyere has declined and opening batsman Hamilton Masakahza has opted to return to university in South Africa. Brendan Taylor is making up his mind.

Those being medically assessed are Gavin Ewing, Douglas Hondo, Mluleki Nkala and Tonashe Panyangara.

Opening batsman Deon Ebrahim has not had an offer despite appearing in 22 Tests. Former captains Heath Streak (Warwickshire captain this year) and Tatenda Taibu (in Bangladesh), are not in the picture.

All those accepting the new deal are due to report at Harare Sports Club Thursday for intensive practice and training ahead of the Kenya series, which begins on February 25.

National coach Kevin Curran also believes the players will be ready to take on West Indies in April and May. That series will only be One-day internationals, Zimbabwe having pulled out of all Test cricket for a year.

The return of the players is a personal triumph for chairman Peter Chingoka after they dropped their intention not to play as long as he remained in office.

The only outstanding sticking point is the question of unpaid match fees for players who faced New Zealand and India in August and September.

"That remains on the table" said player representative Clive Field "and I fear now they might have jeopardised their negotiating position for this considerable money that's still owed."

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