The stand-off between the 15 rebel cricketers and the Zimbabwe Cricket Union may be nearing an end, after it was announced by the ZCU that the players would be returning to training on April 30, and that they were back in consideration for selection. The possibility of a breakthrough had earlier been raised with the news that the players were prepared to accept the appointment of Much Musunda to act as mediator.
Musunda, a prominent businessman, was the choice of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union and Heath Streak. But despite rumours to the contrary, so far there have been no talks between any of the rebels and the board, and none will take place until the banned players have met with their lawyer.
There are, inevitably, many stumbling blocks. Musunda is not in the country at the moment, and nothing will happen until he returns. Even when he does, the rebels are not holding out too much hope that the ZCU will offer any meaningful concessions. "We have to see what the ZCU come back to us with," Grant Flower said. "And so far they have come back with nothing. If it's not settled by mediation -- and I don't think it will be on an amicable basis -- it would have to go to arbitration." So far, the ZCU has ruled out arbitration.
They rebels stated that they are all keen to play again - although an obstacle is that they clearly have no faith that the ZCU will honour any commitments, and so they will do nothing until they see actions rather than words. "The guys are only going to make themselves available for selection once that process has happened," Flower told The Times. "If we did it the other way round, the ZCU wouldn't take it seriously; they would draw it out, keep us playing while we were still in dispute with them and not resolve this until we are at the end of our contracts."
But the rebels are prepared to start training again as an act of good faith, and in the hope that the mess will be sorted out sooner rather than later. In the meantime, the ZCU has named an unchanged side for the fifth and final one-day match in Harare on Thursday.