By Nomalanga Moyo
Cricket players will continue to boycott matches unless authorities at the mother body pay them their overdue salaries, media reports suggest.
The domestic cricket season finally kicked off this month after a month’s delay, amid reports of financial troubles at the Zimbabwe Cricket Union.
Media reports suggest that the cricket governing body has failed to pay players and owes them two to five-month salaries.
On Monday sports website ESPNCricInfo said players from Mountaineers and the Mashonaland Eagles teams did not play a Pro50 match in Mutare on Sunday, in protest over unpaid salaries.
Senior Eagles players refused to travel to Mutare, in line with a boycott resolution by the country’s cricketers. The visitors ‘won’ the match on a technicality, after hosts Mountaineers did not show up.
Another Pro50 match between Southern Rocks and Mid West Rhinos took place in Kwekwe, but without Rhinos players Brendan Taylor, Vusi Sibanda and Malcolm Waller, who also play for the national team.
The Logan Cup fixture, scheduled to start Tuesday, is in doubt after players told the cricket governing body that they will boycott it, unless salaries are paid by Monday.
The cricket union has already threatened to cut the December salary of any player who boycotts. But if no salaries are being paid this is nothing more than an empty threat. The players say if this happens, they will take their employer to court for breach of contract, according to a report posted on Facebook page ZimCricket.
Zim Cricket Union communications manager Lovemore Banda confirmed the boycotts to SW Radio Africa and said they were working hard to meet their obligation to the players.
Banda said: “The players have been in touch again and have said they will boycott the Logan Cup unless their salaries are paid. We are negotiating with our bank and expect to deposit the salaries tomorrow (Tuesday) but the players are insisting that they won’t play unless the money is paid today (Monday).”
Banda blamed “the global economic meltdown” for the lack of sponsorship and denied reports of financial mismanagement at Zim Cricket.
“A lot of companies are struggling in the current economic climate and are no longer able to sponsor us or to do so to the same level as before,” Banda added.
Past sponsors who have pulled out include Castle beer, Stanbic Bank, Metbank and Croco Motors.
A coaching official in the cricket development unit blamed financial mismanagement at Zim Cricket for the sponsors flight.
The official told SW Radio Africa that the mother body was also failing to pay development coaches and diverting funds earmarked for grassroots cricket.
“They keep saying there is no money but the top administrators haven’t altered their lifestyles to reflect this. And we know that funds meant for cricket development are being used for other things.
“We see them travelling every time and eating at expensive places yet they have cut the monthly salary of a full-time development coach from $150 to $78,” said the official.
A number of the high-profile cricketers have quit the sport in frustration at the way the game is administered in the country.
Players such as Kyle Jarvis, Craig Ervine, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Greg Lamb, Sean Williams and Graeme Cremer have all left citing financial mismanagement and non-payment of salaries as reasons. SW Radio Africa