THREE of the rebel cricket players fired by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) left the country this week to join clubs in England, IndependentSport can reveal.
It has also been established that at least four other players have plans at advanced stages to leave for England, Australia and New Zealand.
Former captain Heath Streak, Grant Flower and Trevor Gripper left for England between Monday and Tuesday.
Paceman Andy Blignaut will be moving to Australia to join Sean Ervine, who left last month and is at Tasmania.
Veteran batsman Flower joins Lashints, a country club, and confirmed before leaving that he had already signed a contract.
“I will be playing club cricket in England and I have signed a contract with Lashints running until September. I will review the situation after then and decide on the next move.”
Gripper confirmed last week that he was going to join Cranleigh, based in the district of Surrey.
“I am moving to Cranleigh and will soon reveal the nature of contract I will enter into. We have been fired here but life has to continue and we have to pursue our careers,” said Gripper.
Streak joins Warwickshire in London.
Highly placed sources said offers have been extended by clubs mainly in Europe to the rebel players and most of them are likely to leave within the next two weeks. Although still pursuing their fallout with the ZCU through the courts, the players are understood to have almost given up and resolved to move elsewhere to continue with their careers.
“I am thinking about it,” said Blignaut last week. “I am not too sure when I may leave. But I have to make other plans since we have been fired. Something is in the plans but the issue is I can’t say too much now.”
Tasmania Cricket Association’s chief executive officer was quoted in the media confirming that Blignaut has signed for them and would be moving soon.
Differences between the ZCU and 15 senior white players came to a head eight weeks ago after Streak had been stripped of his captaincy following his criticism of the selection panel and a racial quota system meant to reserve places for blacks in the national team.
Efforts to reconcile to the two parties failed a fortnight ago when the ZCU re-fired the players after five of them had refused to play in Test matches against Australia.
The impasse forced Zimbabwe to field a makeshift squad that was whitewashed by Sri Lanka before Australia easily won three one-day internationals.