Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent
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Zimbabwe's cricketers were given a guarantee of US$12,500 each by the Pakistan Cricket Board before they agreed to tour that country for a historic series last month, ESPNcricinfo has learned. The tour, the first by a Full Member team since March 2009, went ahead despite advice to the contrary from the Zimbabwe government's Sports and Recreation Committee (SRC).
The individual payments were part of the US$500,000 the PCB is understood to have paid Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) before the tour. The PCB has not commented on the issue of any financial payments to ZC or the players.
The amount paid to the individual players is substantially more than nationally contracted Zimbabwean cricketers' monthly salaries, which are US$6,500 a month at their maximum and comes with the players still waiting to be paid their World Cup fees.
The PCB initially offered Zimbabwe's players US$10,000 each, which a significant number of players felt was too little given the safety concerns. That was the reason behind ZC issuing a press release on May 14, eight days before the first match, confirming the suspension of the tour on the instructions of the SRC. Less than half an hour later, ZC recanted and said discussions were ongoing between the PCB and ZC. Insiders have revealed this was when the PCB upped their offer to Zimbabwe's cricketers, offering to pay those that were still wary even more money to make the trip.
An agreement was reached on US$12,500 although one source believes some players may have still negotiated more money. The money is understood to have been paid in two amounts, the first on arrival and the second at the conclusion of the series, which could explain why Zimbabwe stayed on despite a suicide attack during their second ODI.
ZC is also believed to have benefitted financially from agreeing to be the first Test-playing team to tour Pakistan since 2009. One source revealed that Ozias Bvute, the former managing director of ZC, played a role in securing the deals even though he resigned from his post in July 2012. His resignation followed his implication in the mismanagement of an ICC loan to ZC but he remained an advisor to the board.
Bvute traveled with the Zimbabwe team as the head of their delegation, and ZC chairman Wilson Manase said his role was because of his experience in the country. "Because of the terrain, I had to look back at the people we have in the administration who have the experience and I realised that Ozias Bvute has been to Pakistan before," Manase told NewsDay . "Bvute was the most suitable candidate…We need someone like him who can understand what to do, what to say to the players among other things."
The Zimbabwean team's experience in Pakistan was described by several players in favourable terms. Sikandar Raza tweeted that Zimbabwe were"welcomed with open arms, smiles and love," while Craig Ervine said he was "loving the passion for cricket in Pakistan," and thanked the PCB for the "hospitality and security over this tour."
Over 3,500 security officials were deployed to look after the Zimbabwe team, whose only movement in Lahore was between the hotel and the Gaddafi stadium. They were due to go shopping the day before their final ODI but the trip was cancelled after the suicide attack.