ZIMBABWE’S rebel cricketers are not giving up yet – they have adopted a “two-pronged approach” as they seek the way forward after an international inquiry denied their racism allegations,
their lawyer said yesterday.
The dissenting white players this week had a “confidential” meeting with Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) chief Richard Bevan, while their lawyer said he was working on a “comprehensive response” to the findings of the International Cricket Council (ICC)’s racism probe.
“We have now taken a two-pronged approach in the hope of finding a quick solution to the crisis,” Chris Venturas, the players’ legal representative, told IndependentSport yesterday.
The ICC absolved the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) of racism allegations reported by the rebel players, who were fired in April for walking out on the union to protest Heath Streak’s dismissal as captain.
It was not clear what role the players wanted Bevan to play in the saga. Bevan was in Zimbabwe this week as part of an advance delegation that came to assess the safety and security situation in the country ahead of England’s tour next month.
“We had a confidential meeting with Bevan on Wednesday,” rebel player Stuart Carlisle said without divulging what they had discussed with the PCA chief.
Venturas said he was busy compiling a response to the ICC’s report, released last Saturday in Lahore, Pakistan.
“We feel the ICC report has some areas which need to be readdressed, so we are working on a comprehensive response,” Venturas said, without stating what his clients’ appeal would centre on.
ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed last week blasted the rebel cricketers for “attempting to undermine” the inquiry before the report on the probe was presented in Lahore.
Venturas had filed an official letter of complaint to the ICC over the conduct of the racism hearing in Harare a fortnight ago.
The ICC-commissioned probe into the racism allegations, handled by India’s solicitor-general Goolam Vahanvati and South African high court judge Steven Majiedt, was prematurely called off when the ZCU and the white players implicating its chiefs in racism claims reached a stalemate.
The ICC panel had to rely on written submissions from both parties.
Venturas, however, said there was a chance the rebels could return to national duty if the ICC recommendations contained in the report were implemented.
“The players have been offered contracts since April but they won’t take them up until their grievances are addressed,” Venturas said.
“The players have also over the past two months been talking to the ZCU without their lawyer and I know they are all ready to come back if the ZCU implements ICC recommendations. There is also the arbitration dispute resolution process that will deal with the other grievances besides racism.”
ZCU chairman Peter Chingoka this week maintained “our doors remain open” for the rebels, although he was keen on focusing on the new young Zimbabwe national team.
“We are satisfied with that (of the racism inquiry) outcome which allows us now to move forward with our core business, which is to administer play,” Chingoka told a news conference in Harare on Wednesday.
“We envisage that the squad we have now will come into its own in the next one-and-a-half to two years. That the talent is there cannot be argued,” he said.
“What is lacking is experience and that can only come with engagement. The players need to get continued exposure, particularly in the longer version of the game.”