THE impasse between cricket players and the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) was far from over yesterday despite claims by the union that the situation was under control.
FONT face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>ZCU chairman, Peter Chingoka, addressed a press conference in Harare yesterday afternoon and announced the steps by which the union had tried to resolve the standoff with the 13 national team players.
Chingoka made startling revelations at the press conference that there was a group that has hatched a plot to destroy the game of cricket in the country.
“About eight weeks ago we gathered from a reliable source that there is a group of people that has devised a strategy, in their own words, ‘to destroy Zimbabwean cricket this year’,” Chingoka said.
Chingoka, accompanied by ZCU managing director Vince Hogg, however refused to divulge the identity of the saboteurs or their strategy.
There was further confusion when Chingoka announced the ZCU had received another 10-point ultimatum from the group of dissenting players. He said the ZCU board had to look at the fresh demands before making a public comment.
Captain Heath Streak was fired by the ZCU a fortnight ago after he had issued an ultimatum demanding an overhaul of the selection panel and castigated the quota system. Streak was speaking on behalf of senior players who form the bulk of the national team.
Chingoka yesterday said the union had acceded to the demand to have the selection panel changed.
Former convenor Ali Shah and Jon Brent have been dropped and the panel now consists of Steven Mangongo, Macsood Ebrahim, Ritchie Kaschula and Mpumelelo Mbangwa, Chingoka announced.
Mbangwa had not accepted his appointment by yesterday and Chingoka said a replacement would be found. As a result, only three panellists were locked up in a meeting held concurrently with the press conference to choose the team for the Sri Lanka tour starting Tuesday.
Chingoka however said the ZCU had refused to bow to players’ demands to have Streak reinstated as captain.
“The union will not be entering into further discussion on this matter as we have sufficient evidence to confirm Heath’s retirement (as captain),” said Chingoka in a statement.
Sources close to the dissenting players’ camp yesterday said they were still insisting on having Streak reinstated as captain. Their response to changes to the selection panel was also believed to be in the negative, casting doubts over their availability for the Sri Lanka tour if selected.
In that event Zimbabwe, bereft of depth and skill, would be forced to field greenhorns, which would render the team probably the weakest Test side ever.