Zimbabwe plan tri-series

Darlington Majonga

ZIMBABWE are planning to host a triangular one-day international series involving India and New Zealand mid-year, as efforts to lure back rebel players this week appeared headed for a stal


New Zealand and India are scheduled to visit Zimbabwe for Test series between July and August, a chance the hosts are keen to slot in a three-nation one-day international tournament.

Sponsorship for the proposed tournament has already been secured, according to highly placed insiders, but Zimbabwe Cricket still has to get the commitment of the visiting teams.

Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Peter Chingoka this week confirmed the development, but would not say much “because we’re still in the planning stages”.

However, white players who turned their backs on national duty to protest the dismissal of Heath Streak as captain last April might still be in the wilderness by mid-year if they don’t tone down their demands for a comeback.

The rebels are said to be demanding a complete overhaul of the selection process, three-year contracts and tax-free salaries as a pre-condition for their return.

But Zimbabwe Cricket is unlikely to give in to these terms, according to one board member, who described the demands as “outrageous”.

Chingoka this week declined to discuss the issue of the rebels, saying that would prejudice efforts by an independent ad hoc committee to woo back the former national team players.

The Zimbabwe Cricket board meets tomorrow and Chingoka said the rebels’ issue was not on the agenda until the ad hoc committee, chaired by Addington Chinake, presents a report on its talks with the striking players.

One of the rebel players, who this week spoke to IndependentSport on condition of anonymity, denied that they had made “outrageous” demands.

“It’s mischievous for anyone to claim that we have demanded tax-free salaries and three-year contracts,” he said. “So far our discussions with the committee have been promising, though I’m bound not to say much.”

He said the sticking point remained the composition of the selection panel, which they insist should be manned by people with first-class experience as players and at least level-three coaching qualification.

“All we want are selectors with a cricketing background like in any other country. We’re hopeful everything will work out well because we hear Chingoka has been really good and has already tasked a constitutional committee to review the whole selection policy,” he said. “If Zimbabwe Cricket does not accede to our proposals, that’s it — no rebel will return.”

Another director on the Zimbabwe Cricket board said he hoped the rebels would soften their demands, or else the “reconciliation process will end in a stalemate”.