Zimbabwe news August 16, 2013

Zimbabwe players boycott training, form union


Zimbabwe's players have taken the bold step of forming a players' union in a bid to present a united front in salary negotiations. They have also boycotted training ahead of the series against Pakistan, which begins next week, until their demands are met.

However, ESPNcricinfo has learned that at least three players have decided to resume training*.

Wilfred Mukondiwa, the MD of Zimbabwe Cricket, confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that a players' association was in the works for the last few months but he did not expect one to be formed this quickly. He said ZC have been in talks with the new body and expects a resolution over payment issues later today. Mukondiwa remained confident the series against Pakistan would take place "as planned."

The players, who could not be reached for comment, are speaking through five senior members of the squad - Brendan Taylor, Hamilton Masakadza, Elton Chigumbura, Prosper Utseya and Vusi Sibanda - who have been in meetings with Mukondiwa and ZC "since Wednesday." They are believed to be asking for match fees in addition to the salaries they receive on central contracts.

Mukondiwa confirmed a Zimbabwe Independent report which said players want US$5,000 per Test, $3,000 per ODI and US$1,500 per T20. He did not reveal whether ZC had agreed to pay those amounts, but said the "door was open for negotiation."

ZC have made the players an offer which they had taken to the union. Mukondiwa expected they would accept the offer and said the only issue which was yet to be agreed on was that of World Cup fees. The Independent reported that the players want 10% of the proceeds ZC receives from next year's World T20.

Mukondiwa also admitted that players have not been paid their July salaries due to a liquidity problem in ZC. While Mukondiwa said the five-ODI visit from India "brought in money", ZC "has commitments" and was not able to meet all of them. He said the players were given an assurance they would be paid soon. Jason Gillespie, who has coached Midwest Rhinos in Zimbabwe, tweeted: Very pleasing to see the Zimbabwe cricketers form a players union. Hopefully ZC will realise this is a very positive move. #zimbabwecricket

This is not the first time salaries have caused problems in Zimbabwe cricket. The players threatened a boycott before their April series against Bangladesh in protest over what they considered an unsatisfactory daily allowance for non-centrally contracted players. Then, Craig Ervine, who was not on a central contract, chose to play club cricket in the UK, instead of accepting a winter contract in Zimbabwe which was believed to be worth US$100 a week.

Now, the players are demanding compensation they believe is in line with what their counterparts in other countries are earning. While they wait for a decision to be made, they have not trained as a squad. Some have busied themselves with independent programmes but most have been involved with the formation of the union.

Zimbabwean players have never had a successfully operational players association despite many attempts at one. The 2004 white-player walkout was one such aborted attempt but the major difference between that issue and the current one is that this time, the battle is not around race, and players across the colour divide are united in their attempts to confront the board.

Mukondiwa said ZC will release a statement as soon as a resolution is reached. Zimbabwe host Pakistan for two T20s, three ODIs and two Tests, starting next Friday.

* August 16, 2013 12.55 GMT: The story has been updated with the players' decision to train

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ZCF on August 17, 2013, 14:56 GMT

    Fine set up a union, but let your demands be justified by your performances - spot on Garikai! It should be enough if the boys' current packages are better than the rebels had. In comparison to other qualified professionals, what the players are actually earning currently is more than they should be receiving. It's the voices of divisive external forces such as Gillespie who pass through planting dangerous thoughts in these boys' heads!

    The only finger that can be pointed at ZC is delays in paying salaries that's all. ZC has cleaned up by restructuring and reducing admin staff by laying off people(compensation). They must just nationalise the cricket assets in line with govt policy which should free up avoidable rent etc.

    ZC, DO NOT GIVE IN! Rather make a commitment to pay all franchise players timely&better(loyal, indigenous ones only); plus resuscitate and expand club cricket throughout the country. If the players are genuine they would rather fight for the benefit of all. Cont..

  • Bhrigu on August 16, 2013, 19:27 GMT

    It does the moral of a team a lot of harm when things like these happen. I thought most Zimbabwean players are talented, they just lack the confidence to win games.

  • ZCF on August 16, 2013, 16:28 GMT

    ..Cont. Putting things to them in that way should give them a reality check. Better remuneration will be spread to all professional cricket players in Zim. The only privilege you will have as national team players is offseason salaries, while non-national team players get very little. The figures these boys are asking for are unrealistic in Zim's climate.

    If they don't want then extend the improved franchise conditions to all players, many of whom will be elated, and select a different squad from there: Batsmen: Matsikenyeri(c), Kasuza, Mutizwa, Chari, Chibhabha, Masvaure, Zhuwao, Kasteni, Dabengwa(vc) Seamers: Ncube, Mpofu, Mupariwa, Panyangara, Tiripano, Musoko Spinners: Mugava, Nyumbu Keepers: Sauramba, Mayavo

    Any XI from these can also respectably lose 5-0 to India in exactly the same way! If they won't budge, simply select other players ZC and give them the noisy players' contracts! I say improvements for all franchise players instead. National players MUST FIRST EARN A RAISE!!

  • Alex on August 16, 2013, 16:06 GMT

    These guys should start winning games before they want a raise on their salaries, they cant compare with other cricketers around the world bcoz other teams win games. WIN GAMES AND U WILL EARN MORE or ZIM can canl it quits on cricket. These guys results as cricketers is embarassing considering most of them have played more thand 20 internationals

  • AAMIR on August 16, 2013, 15:51 GMT

    They played with india but now refusing to play with pak on same salary.. nothing to do with pak but they think they cant play close matches on low income.. 

  • ESPN on August 16, 2013, 15:32 GMT

    Cricinfo turning into a gossip page...its their personal matter shuldnt be reporting drama only talk about cricket

  • Krishna on August 16, 2013, 14:54 GMT

    Well first of all what Zimbabwe cricket can do at this moment is provide accordingly to the needs of the players with the help from ICC or any other richer boards, then provide a timeframe within which the team has to prove their worth, failing to which their pay will be downgraded. This would give an equal opportunity for both sides. In case they start playing well the revenue earnings will increase by itself for the board.

  • Charles on August 16, 2013, 13:29 GMT

    If Zimbabwe wants to hold onto their players, this absolutely needs to happen. Gary Ballance has been criticised by some for opting to play for England over Zimbabwe, but England is a guaranteed payday. The fact of the matter is that cricket is a professional sport and it needs to be worth players' while financially to play, otherwise they're going to seek out opportunities elsewhere. For some perspective, Craig Ervine was set to earn less in the Zimbabwean winter than the unemployed get in the UK.

  • Raja on August 16, 2013, 13:12 GMT

    Let us hope they resolve it amicably to both sides for the good of the game in the country.

  • Dummy4 on August 16, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    ICC should set a minimum for all international players. then the would not have this problem.

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