The Zimbabwe crisis May 10, 2004

Rebels prepare offer to board

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Trevor Gripper: 'We still want to go to arbitration, and mediation would be a means to that end' © Getty Images

Most of the rebel cricketers will meet today in Harare to hammer out the detail of their formal acceptance that they are prepared to enter into mediation with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union. According to one of the group - Trevor Gripper - they are ready, as a gesture of goodwill, to resume training and make themselves available to play in the second Test which is due to start on Friday.

Absent from the meeting will be Heath Streak, the man whose dismissal as captain at the beginning of April triggered the whole situation. Streak has been involved in meetings with local government officials in Matabeleland over the future of his family farm. Their Robins Farm and Entsokozweni Safari Camp have been occupied by a large number of local settlers since Mugabe began his land-reform programme in 2000.

The chronic fuel shortage blighting Zimbabwe also makes the 500-mile round trip extremely difficult for him.

But the big obstacle which still remains is that of arbitration. The ZCU refuses to countenance it, the rebels insist on it. "We still want to go to arbitration, and mediation would be a means to that end," Gripper explained. "This decision of ours is not set in stone. We have not changed out stance on this issue at all. Arbitration is legally binding and that's the objective and that's what we really want."

The ZCU has refused to make any statement until the players' proposal has been formally delivered. But Vince Hogg, the ZCU's chief executive, said: "Typically they have gone public without coming to us first. But let us hope we can now resolve this problem. I certainly look forward to that."