Zim cricketers reject new contracts

HARARE – Zimbabwe national team cricket players Thursday continued boycotting training for the second day running over a fresh contractual dispute, threatening to disrupt preparations for Pakistan’s upcoming tour here next week.

The players first refused to train on Tuesday, as reported by the Daily News in yesterday’s issue, in apparent protest at not being paid their match fees and allowances dating back to the tour of the West Indies at the beginning of the year.

Since touring the Caribbean in January, Zimbabwe has hosted Bangladesh and India and are scheduled to welcome Pakistan next week for a full series of two Tests, three ODIs and two Twenty20s beginning August 23.

The Daily News understands that payment for the past series have not been made in full, and nothing at all in the case of other players, prompting the players to demand their dues before they can resume preparations for the Pakistan games.

ZC, meanwhile, is believed to have pleaded with the players to resume their training programme after providing guarantee that their payments have since been deposited in their accounts but were being delayed by RTGS transfer hitches between Metropolitan Bank and CBZ Bank.

The players, in turn, have demanded payment reference numbers to make certain that the claims are true. 

Besides the impasse over the unpaid match fees, it emerged yesterday that the players have rejected new contracts that would have continued to freeze match fees, as has been the case for two years.

Central contracts for about 10 senior players expired on July 31, but ZC are said to have offered the players a month’s extension up to the end of August, still excluding match fees. The players rejected the proposed deal.  

ZC promised to revisit the contract issue following the board’s cricket committee meeting in a few weeks’ time.  The local cricket ruling board’s cricket committee is chaired by former Zimbabwe international Wayne James.

“The real issue is about contracts,” said one player who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Our argument is that our contacts do not include match fees. Our salaries are inadequate and only cover basics; that is if we get paid on time at all. So without match fees it means we have been playing for nothing. We are really struggling. How can you play international cricket for 10 years and have nothing to show for it? ZC pay us pittance yet they continue to expect us to perform at the same level with other international sides which are well paid. You can’t.”

The players, meanwhile, say they are only asking for a “minimum match fees” in comparison with the other Test-playing  nations.

“How do you compete with the West Indies players, who get $18 000 match fees for a Test match per  guy? We are only demanding a minimum fee. For example, the minimum appearance fee for an average Test team is $5 000 per Test match, and $1 500 for a Twenty20. We get nothing at all. For two years. And we are professional sportsmen who are supposed to compete with the best in the world! It’s not possible.”

In addition, the players have also demanded 10% from the 2015 World Cup revenue. ZC is only prepared to pay appearances fees.

“That’s why we continue to lose players. We lost Craig Ervin after the West Indies tour, and he was our best batsman at the time. We lost Stuart Matsikenyeri, and currently Graeme Cremer has not been reporting for training. At this level, our levels will continue to go down.”

Thursday, the players are understood to have formed a players’ representative committee to tackle issues concerning their welfare.

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