Exclusive: Bowler speaks of his decision to quit Zimbabwe

Ireland: 'I cannot work with such people'

Martin Williamson

April 6, 2007

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Anthony Ireland in Zimbabwe colours ... but no more © AFP
Anthony Ireland, who quit international cricket earlier this week and signed a two-year deal to play for Gloucestershire, has spoken of the reasons he decided to pursue a career outside Zimbabwe.

Ireland, who at 22 is an up-and-coming talent, the kind Zimbabwe cannot afford to lose, explained that the way the contracts were forced on players shortly before the World Cup was the final straw.

"Just before we left we were summoned to a meeting with Ozias Bvute [the board's managing director]," he told Cricinfo from his Khumalo home in Bulawayo. "When we got to his office, we were told that we had to sign new contracts. All the players quickly signed, but I asked for time to talk to a few people about the terms of the contract. Bvute said I had five minutes to make up my mind, and threatened to have me replaced in the World Cup squad if I refused. I had no choice but to sign.

"That's one of the reasons why I decided to retire after the World Cup ... I cannot work with such people"

Ireland, who will be leaving for England next Wednesday, said that he signed the contract so that he could play in the World Cup, but that he had already made up his mind about signing a Kolpak deal with Gloucestershire. He added that Bvute had made it clear that the players would not be allowed to take time off to play cricket abroad during Zimbabwe's winter.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo

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Martin Williamson Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.
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