ZC rejects Taibu allegations
Tatenda Taibu's place in the Zimbabwe starting line-up is secure, despite his flagrant criticism of administrators on the eve of the country's return to Test cricket. Taibu might have been thought to be at risk of being dropped from the squad after pointing a finger at the lack of professionalism and funds in the set-up but instead Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) has said they will address Taibu's concerns.
"In any other country a senior player could expect significant sanction from his board for such a public outburst," the ZC managing director Ovais Bvute and chairman of selectors Alistair Campbell said in a joint statement in response to ESPNcricinfo's article. "But we see little point in doing that and wish him the very best in the Test match. He is one of our finest cricketers." Taibu, with 24 Test appearances, is the most capped Test player in the current squad.
Campbell had earlier indicated to South African sports magazine show Inside Edge that if ZC deemed that Taibu had broken any of the clauses in the Code of Conduct, he may face punishment. In the interview, Campbell also called the timing of Taibu's comments "bad" and said that he would talk to Taibu ahead of the Test, so the two could discuss the issues Taibu raised on Wednesday.
Campbell arrived at the Harare Sports Club shortly after Zimbabwe's practice session ended at 1pm and met with Taibu on the outfield. The pair spoke for more than 15 minutes, each one more heated than the next, with arms waving and shoulders shrugging. The forceful exchange has not had any impact on Taibu's participation in the match against Bangladesh.
ZC denied allegations that players were not being paid, saying, "Neither Tatenda nor any of the other national players have ever not been paid their monthly salary." These salaries refer to the training retainers that players have been given, and not the central contracts that Taibu is asking for, which are yet to be drawn up. The body also conceded that "match fees, paid over and above salaries, have been deferred from time to time while cash-flow improves with our return to international cricket."
An insider told ESPNcricinfo that "liquidity is still a big problem in Zimbabwe," despite the US dollar as a stabilising factor. "If things were run on credit cards and bank transfers, it may make things easier but with people only accepting cash, that can sometimes cause problems, especially in cricket."
Taibu also said he was acting as a mouthpiece for players who were not able to speak out, but ZC rejected accusations of individuals being targeted. "We have already started the process of improving our mechanisms for communication whereby the players will be able to speak to the administrators and express their concerns in a clear and forthright manner, and without fear of repercussion or reprisal."
They body also said it would be "happy to involve a third party as a players' representative and, indeed, an independent mediator. We would like Tatenda to participate in this process." Currently, the Zimbabwe's cricketers don't have a players' association, although ZC implied that only an outside arbitrator would be involved and not that a fully fledged cricketers' body will be formed.
It also indicated that it would be willing to seek advice from the game's global governing body, the ICC. "While the ICC's chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, is here to witness our return to Test cricket, we will be extending an invitation for him to talk to our players," the statement said. Lorgat arrives in the country tomorrow and will attend the first two days of the Test as a show of support for Zimbabwe's return to the longest version of the game.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent