The Zimbabwe crisis February 4, 2006

No progress as Zimbabwe strike continues

Reports that Zimbabwe's cricketers had signed contracts offered to them by the board have turned out to be false.

Yesterday, unknown sources said that Zimbabwe Cricket had bypassed group negotiations and had approached players on a one-on-one basis to offer them new contracts. It was claimed that 16 had signed after meeting board officials during the day.

But a source representing the players told Cricinfo that nothing had been signed, and in fact the players had not only refused to do so, but had also again withdrawn from all cricket in frustration at the board's handling of the dispute. That means that tomorrow's final round of matches in the Faithwear one-day tournament is likely to go ahead without any of those involved in the negotiations.

"We decided to pull back and not sign the contracts," the source told Cricinfo. "And further, we're not going to play cricket until this thing is sorted out."

The players remain concerned about the way that their outstanding backpay is being addressed, and most are also not happy with the new contracts they are being offered, which they feel are inferior to what they were presented with before.

They are also very unhappy that Zimbabwe Cricket has refused to allow Clive Field, the players' association representative, to act on their behalf and is forcing them to deal individually with the board. "It's a further step back," the source explained, "because now we have the player rep issue as well as the contract one."

Hamilton Masakadza endorsed that view, telling Cricinfo: "Anything to do with us, you can still speak to Clive. He still represents us and its not right for anyone but us to do away with him."

Zimbabwe Cricket is unlikely to improve the contract and it is possible that offers could be made to the next tier of players. However, this week's Faithwear matches have shown that those players are nowhere near being good enough to play international cricket.