Zimbabwe players protest unpaid fees, uncertainty around contracts

Sources told ESPNcricinfo that ZC has neglected to bring players from outside Harare to the training camp because of a lack of funds Getty Images

Zimbabwe's Harare-based players have refused to train in protest over unpaid match fees, which date back to July last year. The players were due to begin preparations for a series against Pakistan A, which starts at the end of the month, followed by fixtures against Sri Lanka, but have instead insisted on a meeting with Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) managing director Wilfred Mukondiwa to discuss "their worsening situation".

Several sources told ESPNcricinfo that apart from the outstanding player bill, ZC has also neglected to bring players from outside Harare to the training camp because of a lack of funds, or to ensure there are sufficient balls for training or nets for practice.

"We are just fed up at the moment. It is crisis after crisis over here," a player said while detailing the cloud of uncertainty hanging over them. Also, players said, since the end of July, when player contracts expired, there has been no indication on when new ones will be issued at either national or domestic level.

Nationally-contracted players were given a month's extension on their deals which covered the New Zealand series in July-August, but the situation at domestic level remains unclear after ZC announced it would move from a franchise to a provincial system this summer. No fixtures have been released yet.

When contacted for a comment, ZC spokesperson Darlington Majonga said: "The players have asked ZC for an update on new contracts and their delayed match fees, but to equate their honest request for an engagement on the important issues to an ultimatum of some sort would be kind of making a mountain out of a molehill. What is important is that their contracts are ready following an all-inclusive negotiation process that involved representatives of the players. On the other issue, ZC has been paying the match fees in tranches and will settle the outstanding amounts soon."*

Other insiders confirmed Mukondiwa would address the players on Thursday, the day after the board's Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Meanwhile, there has been no announcement on Zimbabwe's schedule for the rest of the international season. They are scheduled to play two Tests against Sri Lanka, but there was initially speculation of that series being altered into a triangular fifty-over competition also involving West Indies. More recently, there has been word that both the Tests and the tri-series will take place.

The players are preparing with the latter in mind under the watch of interim coach Makhaya Ntini and fitness trainer Sean Bell, while ZC deliberates over the vacant head coach post. Heath Streak, currently the bowling coach for IPL franchise Gujarat Lions, is believed to be the favourite to take over.

*15.55GMT, September 14: The article was updated with ZC's response.