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May 23, 2000
Zimbabwe Test cricketers have engaged a British lawyer, Tim O'Gorman, to represent them in pressing for a huge pay hike.
The local cricketers hired O'Gorman to handle their grievances with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union a few days after arriving in London from their disastrous tour of the West Indies three weeks ago.
The British lawyer has already won the first part of the battle by reportedly securing a 20 percent across the board pay rise from the mother body.
O'Gorman met with the ZCU president Peter Chingoka, chief executive Dave Ellman-Brown and Alwyn Pichanick, a ZCU life president, in London two weeks ago at which an agreement to offer the players a 20 percent rise was agreed pending further negotiations.
Andy Flower's men had demanded an immediate 90 percent pay hike ahead of their first of two Test series against England which they, however, comprehensively lost by an innings and 209 runs.
The "crisis" talks between O'Gorman and the ZCU delegation helped to avert a looming boycott of Zimbabwe's maiden Test against England at Lord's.
But according to sources close to the team, a furthar increase is in store for the cricketers as O'Gorman and the ZCU are still locked in furthar discussions over the players' demands, which have been pegged at a massive 400 percent to match their British counterparts.
"The ZCU hastily offered the players an immediate 20 percent rise to save the Lord's Test from a threatened boycott otherwise the players' demands still stand and negotiations should resume after the current tour.
"The ZCU would obviously want people back home to believe that the pay dispute has been resolved, but the se-called amicable agreement is only temporary," said the source.
The sources said the involvement of off-spinner Andy Whittall, who is not a member of the touring party but in London to represent the players, showed that the matter had not been resolved as the Zimbabwe Cricket Union are saying.
Whittall, the sources said, has been one of the most vocal Zimbabwean cricketers on the issue of remuneration and at one point opted out of the ZCU contract after being left out of the West Indies and England tours.
"Whittall pulled out of the Zimbabwe A team, to which he had been appointed captain, for the Sri Lanka tour, citing his mother's illness but ironically went to Australia on holiday a few days before the team left for Sri Lanka.
"He then flew straight to England in time for talks between the ZCU and the players and he is now commentating for British pay television station Sky Sports.
Whittall expected to have been in the squad for the England tour but looked for excuses to pull out when he was not included in the party" said the sources.
Peter Chingoka, ZCU president, released details of negotiations with the players in England that at one stage may have jeopardised the tour.
Responding to Press reports about the dispute, Chingoka admitted in a statement form London where he was watching the England and Zimbabwe Test that there had been a series of negotiations with the cricketers in the pay dispute. "The players demanded an immediate increase in remuneration three weeks ago, failing which they had threatened to abort the tour" said Chingoka in the statement.
An agreement was rapidly reached and a committee to deal with the issue of remuneration comprising a ZCU representative, players' representative Whittall and an independent chairman was set up.
Chingoka said as a "gesture of goodwill", the ZCU had resolved to increase the match fees in the interim and although players were already bound by an existing contract, the union had agreed to review and re-negotiate the issue of compensation.
© Zimbabwe Herald
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