Players and Zimbabwe board reach agreement
The dispute between players and board which has brought Zimbabwe cricket to its knees in recent months appears to be on the verge of being settled after a weekend of meetings between representatives of both sides.
Last Friday it appeared that the situation had again broken down, but over the weekend Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) agreed to meet with Clive Field, the players' representative who it had shut out of negotiations earlier in the week. A number of stumbling blocks were removed when the two sides sat down on Sunday.
Twenty-two players have been offered the seven-month contracts which run until the end of August, with 16 having already signed. Three of those offered contracts - Sean Williams, Chamunorwa Chibhabha and Graeme Cremer - are currently in Sri Lanka with the Zimbabwe squad for the Under-19 World Cup.
The board agreed that the new contracts could be index-linked to the US dollar. Until now, ZC's offer had made no allowance for inflation, which is currently running at close to 600%, and had also pegged salaries to an unrepresentative local exchange rate.
The players will also be free to take unpaid leave at the end of the proposed tour to the Caribbean in May to enable them to play cricket overseas. Any who do not find such work will return to Zimbabwe where they will be paid the basic retainer.
Although some players have yet to sign the contracts, it is expected that most will do so within the next 48 hours. Four others will be considered for contracts after medical assessment. They are Gavin Ewing, Douglas Hondo, Mluleki Nkala and Tinashe Panyangara.
Dion Ebrahim was not offered a new deal, and he is reported to have joined a club in the United Kingdom. While he said he was available for selection on a tour-by-tour basis, Hamilton Masakadza asked for study leave for his university studies in South Africa, while Stuart Matsikenyeri turned down the offer.
Signed contracts Andy Blignaut, Elton Chigumbura, Charles Coventry, Keith Dabengwa, Terrence Duffin, Anthony Ireland, Blessing Mahwire, Bernard Mlambo, Christopher Mpofu, Tawanda Mupariwa, Allan and Waddington Mwayenga, Edward Rainsford, Vusumuzi Sibanda, Gregory Strydom and Prosper Utseya.
Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo