Zimbabwe players extend boycott
Zimbabwe's domestic twenty-over competition has been postponed after the players refused to end their strike over non-payment. The tournament was due to start today and run until Saturday but salaries have still not been paid. The players held a meeting at Harare Sports Club this morning and decided their boycott would continue.
An insider revealed ZC informed the players it did not have the cash it needed to pay the salaries. Yesterday, there was talk that although money would not be transferred on Monday, it would "definitely" happen on Tuesday, according to one source.
ZC has also asked the ICC for a loan to compensate the players, support staff and conduct matches, even though their debt has swollen to US$18 million. Now, it appears ZC is still awaiting confirmation of its ICC loan and has been dealt a further blow by potential sponsors. Lays, who were thought to be offering a deal of around US$700,000, are close to pulling out.
On Sunday night, Zimbabwe players' representative Eliah Zvimba had a teleconference with ZC managing director Wilfred Mukondiwa and the ICC chief financial officer. "The ICC official assured the players' representative that the world cricket governing body would, early this week, honour its promise to send the money," a ZC press release said.
"Regrettably, the players refused to take to the field this morning for the resumption of the domestic season, which was to start with a twenty20 tournament that is also part of Zimbabwe's preparations for the ICC World Twenty20 tournament, which will be in Bangladesh starting next month.
"The players said they will only play when they have been paid."
Zimbabwe have not played international cricket since September, when they were visited by Pakistan and then had three series put on the backburner. Sri Lanka's tour to Zimbabwe, scheduled for last October, was postponed due to lack of funds, while a limited-overs series against Afghanistan that was due to take place in January and an offer to play off a one-off Test against South Africa next week were both cancelled because of the player boycott.
No domestic cricket tournaments have been played in Zimbabwe since mid-December, when the players decided to go on strike over non-payment of dues. The boycott has left Zimbabwe woefully short of match practice ahead of a major tournament.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent