Andy Blignaut: "We have no option but to carry this through" © Getty Images
Zimbabwe's cricketers say they will not go to West Indies in May for a Test and ODI tour unless three conditions are met. They say they will not tour unless their contracts are agreed, they are paid match fees going back to August last year and, finally, they insist that chairman Peter Chingoka must not remain in office.
Andy Blignaut, the senior professional and allrounder, told AFP: "We would be extremely sorry about this. We do not wish to damage the ICC tours programme nor make things difficult for West Indies, but we have no option but to carry this through.
"We are hoping all these issues can be resolved. But I must say that at present the prospects look bleak. We are all determined about our course of action. It represents our only hope of proper treatment."
Two weeks ago, the players informed Bangladesh they would not be sending an A team to Dhaka for the annual Afro-Asian tournament. They were due to leave Harare on Saturday.
Back in October, a host of Zimbabwe players made it clear through their former captain Tatenda Taibu that they would not be available as long as Chingoka remained in his post. These 37 players were all under expired contracts which have not been renegotiated.
Chingoka and Zimbabwe Cricket managing director Ozias Bvute were last year investigated and interrogated by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and eventually arrested on allegations of financial misconduct. They were detained for two nights, but released without conditions on the orders of the attorney general.
Sources who resigned from cricket management two years ago say here that West Indies would already have made hotel, road and air transport bookings for the tour and would have negotiated with a TV company.
"They will be very angry for sure if Zimbabwe cancels," one said. "This would be fresh and dangerous ground for Zimbabwe. Test and ODI tours are simply not scrubbed out in this way. There would be recriminations."
Meanwhile the players, several directors and all the provincial chairmen have been waiting almost four weeks for a response from the government's Sports and Recreation Commission to their suggestion for an interim five-man management committee.
They had hoped this could enable Zimbabwe Cricket to continue in operation while efforts are made to sort out the deepening impasse.