THE Zimbabwe national cricket team’s preparations for next week’s tour by Pakistan for Test and limited over series have been scuttled as practice sessions were suspended after players demanded outstanding salaries and an additional US$5 000 per-player per-match for each future Test encounter.
The players are also demanding match fees of US$3 000 per player for each One Day International (ODI) game and US$1 500 per player for each T-10 match.
The cricketers get an average salary of US$2 000 a month for seven months in a year.
The earnings range from player to player, with the captain getting higher than others. But their salaries are in arrears by a month.
However, if governing body Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) yields to the demands, this means each player will earn approximately US$22 000 during the Pakistani encounter.
ZC extended the players national contracts by a month after their expiry in July. But the players say they will only sign when their conditions are met.
Only 10 players have central contracts and ZC would have to negotiate with the others who make up the squad.
The team was supposed to have regrouped on Tuesday this week, but the announcement of the squad has been delayed by the latest player revolt.
In a letter addressed to ZC managing director Wilfred Mukondiwa yesterday the players demanded match fees, beginning with the upcoming Test series against Pakistan.
“We would like to advise that the Zimbabwe cricket players have formed a union to represent their interests,” reads part of the letter. “The formation of the union is in line with the provisions of the new constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe, particularly Section 65 (1)”, they said.
The letter acknowledges ZC’s offer of extended deals for nationally-contracted players but lays out conditions for acceptance of the offer.
“We are agreeable to the said extension on the following conditions; (1) That match fees be paid to the players who are going to take part in the upcoming Pakistan and any other future tours as follows, (i) US$3 000 for One Day Internationals, (ii) US$ 5 000 for Test matches, (iii) US$1 500 for T-10 matches.”
Some of the players interviewed by IndependentSport yesterday said they had come up with that figure after consulting their counterparts in other countries.
“What we have asked for is the minimum if you compare with other Test playing nations,” said one player who requested anonymity.
“This kind of arrangement will benefit the younger players who do not have central contracts but may be called up into the national team,” he added.
The players also said with the T-20 World Cup coming in next year they want a guarantee that ZC will pay them 10% of proceeds from the global showcase. And they will not return to official practice until their outstanding July salaries are paid.
“For the avoidance of doubt, our membership will not participate in any form of training until the outstanding salaries are paid. There will furthermore be no participation from our members in the upcoming Pakistan tour and the subsequent tours until Zimbabwe Cricket acknowledges and accedes to our request on match fees.”
Senior players, former captains Elton Chigumbura and Prosper Utseya, current captain Brendan Taylor, and batsmen Hamilton Masakadza and Vusi Sibanda held a meeting with the ZC management on Wednesday over the issues but could not reach an agreement.
ZC told the players there was no money and outstanding salaries would be paid by August 28.
Yesterday the players decided to form representation and put their grievances in writing.
Some players said it was worrying that after a profitable tour against India, ZC could still not pay salaries.
The players were engaged in individual practice sessions at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
“We are just having individual work-outs with the coaches but this is not the official practice, said one of the players. “We need to get this issue sorted once and for good. We are having these clashes far too often. We are supposed to be focusing on the upcoming series right now but some of us are looking for money to pay rentals.”
Most of the players had practice session in the nets yesterday at varying times and the sessions were presided over by coach Andy Waller, assistant Steve Mangongo and batting coach Grant Flower.
Pakistan has begun intensive training ahead of the tour which kicks off with two T-20matches next Friday and Saturday at Harare Sports Club. The Zimbabwe players would have needed more practice time after suffering a whitewash at the hands of current world champions India in a five-match ODI series recently.
The local cricketers also plan to press for more players to get national contracts.
“Currently only 10 players have national contracts. We are going to engage them so that we have at least 15 players getting national contracts,” one player said.