The Zimbabwe crisis July 14, 2004

Zimbabwe board agrees to arbitration

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Stuart Carlisle: 'You may see a few players come back' © Getty Images

The agreement to arbitration by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union has given the rebel players some hope of playing international cricket again. Stuart Carlisle, who is currently in England on the rebels' "Red Lions" tour, told BBC Radio Five Live: "If the right results come through, you may see a few players come back." However, Carlisle added: "After three months of asking for arbitration, we are back to square one."

The ZCU agreed to arbitration in its ongoing dispute with the 15 rebel players after the ICC gave the two groups a 14-day deadline, starting from June 30, to start sorting out their differences, and also threatened to intervene if no solution was found. According to the ICC proposal, a three-member committee - with one member appointed by each of the two parties, and a third decided upon by those two members - would address the issues and come up with a solution which would be final. While the ZCU has agreed to this mechanism, the players have sought more time to consider the system. However, the ZCU has denied that the ICC has any jurisdiction to impose a binding solution on them, a viewpoint not shared by Ehsan Mani, the ICC president: "The ICC's legal advice is clear in saying that it does."

The rebels, who play a Lashings XI in the first of six one-day matches in their three-week tour today (July 14), will be meeting Malcolm Speed, the ICC's chief executive, to discuss the current situation, but Carlisle insisted there was no political agenda for the Red Lions tour.

"It's been a very stressful period for us and our families," he said. "We are here to have a bit of fun and enjoyment. We need to have a bit of a break." Carlisle would not comment on whether international teams should still be touring Zimbabwe, saying only: "It's not for me to make a decision. It's up to individual players around the world."

England are due to play five one-day internationals in Zimbabwe in November, and there have been reports that several players are unwilling to go on the tour.