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Zimbabwe players dig in their heels over pay

Zimbabwe's players have said they will not enter into discussions over new contracts until they are paid the $200,000 owed to them by the board

Steven Price
Rumours that the end of the strike by Zimbabwe's players was not as straightforward as initially seemed the case proved accurate as a meeting among many of them decided that they would not discuss contracts with the board until their outstanding wages have been paid.
The players are owed about US$200,000 in total, including vehicle and fuel allowances,.and most have not been paid since last August, even though they only agreed to play India in September on a promise by the board that the issue would be resolved. But it was not, and there are reports that the board not only seems unwilling to resolve the situation but that it has no funds to do so even if it wanted to.
Rather surprisingly, the first meeting of the new interim Zimbabwe Cricket executive last week brushed aside player issues and postponed any discussions until February, despite the fact that the players announced that they had ended their strike on the condition that pay and contracts were sorted by January 31.
"A meeting was held to discuss some Zimbabwe Cricket ideas for making progress on negotiations," Clive Field, the players' representative said. "But they have dug their heels in and are all adamant there will be no talks until payments have been fully made."
One of the major stumbling blocks is also the exchange rate. The money owed was calculated at a rate of Zim$25,000 to the dollar, but that rate has since spiralled to Zim$85,000. Zimbabwe Cricket's original contract offer made no allowance for index linking, but in a country with runaway inflation, that was never likely to be acceptable.
The renewed militancy will be a problem for ZC as it is considering ICC-driven proposals to play in a tri-series in Bangladesh which would feature Kenya as the third side. Today, Cricket Kenya also announced that it was in talks to host three ODIs against Zimbabwe, possibly as early as next month.
There have been suggestions that even if the players were to be paid, some who have quit in the meantime - Tatenda Taibu, Heath Streak and Stuart Carlisle to name three former captains - might be frozen out. And there are growing reports that many of those who had been on strike are preparing to walk away as soon as they have been paid.
Streak is preparing for a summer season in England as captain of Warwickshire, while Taibu is back in Zimbabwe after a spell playing in Bangldesh, but sources close to him say that he wants nothing to do with cricket in Zimbabwe under the current regime.