Second Zimbabwe-Pakistan Test to go ahead
Zimbabwe's players will definitely play the second Test against Pakistan, putting to bed fears of a boycott, their stand-in captain Hamilton Masakadza confirmed on Saturday. ESPNcricinfo has learned that the players received some outstanding payments on Friday, though the specifics are yet unknown.
The players, through their union, had been threatening a boycott during the Pakistan series since it began three weeks ago because of unpaid salaries, but have not followed through with any of their ultimatums so far. They had initially threatened to boycott the final ODI of the tour, but Zimbabwe Cricket's negotiations with the players bought the board more time. The deadline for payment was extended to the eve of the first Test, and then to September 6.
The second Test beginning on September 10 could also be Zimbabwe's last of 2013, with Sri Lanka Cricket saying ZC had sought a postponement of their bilateral series scheduled for October.
ZC held an emergency meeting on Friday during which a variety of issues including payments and Sri Lanka's tour were said to have been discussed. The deputy managing director was also said to have had a meeting with former ZC chief Ozias Bvute, who holds board positions at both Air Zimbabwe and Metbank. It is believed ZC was seeking another loan. They are already steeped in debt with the latest figure reflecting around US$15 million in the red.
The board's staff had not been paid and ZC had apparently informed them in an email that they will not be paid salaries in order to open up any available funds for the players. Both players and the staff have outstanding dues for their July and August salaries.
In another move to cut costs, ZC had shifted the venue for the second Test from Bulawayo to Harare - by doing so, the board will save more than US$50,000 on travel and hotel expenses.
While the lack of funds at ZC is believed to have caused tension, the mood remains a light one in the lead-up to the second Test. The players were relaxed post-match and enjoyed drinks and a debrief in the change room while groundstaff began work for the second Test. They will not train on Sunday but will resume preparations on Monday.