Zimbabwe playing all SuperSport matches at home October 24, 2007

Lions' trip to Harare postponed

Cricinfo staff

The Highveld Lions' scheduled visit to Zimbabwe for a four-day match beginning on October 28 has been postponed after a few players expressed reservations about making the trip. Cricket South Africa said a new date will be fixed following a board meeting on Friday.

Zimbabwe were included in South Africa's domestic competitions after an agreement between the South African and Zimbabwean cricket boards based on an ICC request that full-member countries assist Zimbabwe in developing their cricket.

Tony Irish, the chief executive of the South African Cricketers' Association, confirmed that player representatives from all six South African franchises had met in Cape Town on Monday (October 22) to discuss the away matches against Zimbabwe. Irish did not rule out the possibility of the franchises refusing to play in Zimbabwe.

"There is great unhappiness about the decision to allow Zimbabwe to play in the three South African competitions," Irish told Supercricket.com. "The decision was taken unilaterally by CSA, without consulting the players or the franchises. We were not involved in the issue at all. Questions from the players' association and players were ignored.

"Our objections are purely cricket-related. We feel the game is being watered down when only one team will play for points while their opponents [Zimbabwe] are playing a mere friendly match. Something else that is causing concern is that Zimbabwe will be at full strength against some franchises but will field their second best against others when their national team play internationals. It is not fair that some South African teams will face weaker opposition then others."

"I can't at this stage reveal what was decided at the meeting, but you can take it from the fact that the meeting was held that some of the players have concerns about playing against Zimbabwe," Irish told the Mercury, a Durban-based newspaper. "We have taken up the issue with Cricket South Africa (CSA)."

Meanwhile, Gordon Parsons, the Lions' coach, said that he had not yet named his squad. "I'm not sure yet whether we will be going, so I haven't named a team yet," Parsons said.

Brian Basson, the CSA's general manager of cricket operations, had announced that a representative side from Zimbabwe would take part in all three franchise tournaments in South Africa this season. Zimbabwe would only play a single round in the four-day SuperSport series with all their matches played at home. The franchises would take forward their points from these matches, and this would not apply to Zimbabwe.