Seven-month contract system hurts national team

Staff Writer

ZIMBABWE Cricket’s new seven-month contract system has come back to haunt the organisation with players starting to opt out of the national team to pursue other money-spinning ventures.With the International Cricket Council T-20 World Cup on the horizon, Zimbabwe played both South Africa and Bangladesh in a triangular series all teams were using to prepare for the global showcase, but Charles Coventry who had been included in the training squad turned down the offer in a bid to make money elsewhere.
Coventry told IndependentSport that because of the system that was adopted last year, he had to fill in the gaps by doing something else in winter and when the national team offer arrived he could not take it as he was already committed to another engagement.
“I couldn’t join the squad because we were out of contract and I had already started on something to make money during winter,” said Coventry.
Cricket fans have been wondering why Coventry, with all his talents and merits, had failed to make the triangular T-20 squad and, more importantly, the 30-member World Cup training squad that was announced this week.
But Coventry said he was still hopeful of getting a contract at Tuskers and continue his cricket career.
“This is not the end of it, it’s just that I had started on something that I could not abandon. We have to survive during the out-of-contract season. I hope I can still get a contract with Tuskers and continue playing and hopefully I will be considered for the national team in future.”
Cricket players are contracted for just seven months each year, with contracts running between September and March.
Most players had to improvise to accommodate salary cuts and the unpopular seven-month contract system.
The cash strapped ZC has had to come up with survival measures that include laying off support staff. More players could turn down the national team in future as they have to look elsewhere for subsistence.
Cricket fans have been questioning the exclusion of Coventry from the World Cup training squad, with some suggesting another fallout with the administrators.
The Coventry case has so far put to test the new system and proved how much it can hurt the national team if players engage in other jobs to put food on the table.
Zimbabwe is seeking to organise more practice matches to trim the 30-member training squad to 15 that will travel to Sri Lanka this September. Zimbabwe won the triangular series, beating South Africa in the final to raise hopes of World cup success in a tournament where they have been clustered with the Proteas and the hosts.