Zimbabwe cricket star Brendan Taylor has expressed his desire to “get back to work” ahead of the upcoming tours against South Africa and Bangladesh later this year as he looks to quickly put behind him the recent impasse with his employer Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) over unpaid salaries and match fees.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Opening up for the first time on the circumstances that saw him and six other senior players missing the recent international assignments against Pakistan and Australia, Taylor said he remained committed to the national side, dismissing speculation that he would quit international cricket again.
The 32-year-old wicketkeeper/batsman along with four other key players Sikandar Raza, Graeme Cremer, Sean Williams and Craig Ervine were not part of the squad due to non-payment of their salaries for two months and match fees for over a year.
Middle-order batsman Malcolm Waller featured in the T-20 tri-series against Pakistan and Australia before withdrawing from the squad on the eve of the five-match ODI series against Pakistan.
The labour standoff with ZC over non-payment of salaries and match fees saw Zimbabwe fielding a weakened side, which failed to put up any fight in the T20 tri-series before being brutally whitewashed in the ODI series.
Describing his spell on the sidelines as “a long-winded and frustrating time”, Taylor nonetheless said the matter was close to being resolved.
In fact, ZC announced yesterday that the International Cricket Council (ICC) had confirmed releasing funds for the payment of overdue salaries and match fees owed to its players and staff.
“We’re certainly looking to putting all that behind us and getting back to what we all love best, which is playing for Zimbabwe,” Taylor told Standardsport in an exclusive interview yesterday.
“I’m very confident that great strides have been taken to resolve the players’ issues. It’s been a long-winded and frustrating time, but the good thing is that we are moving forward and the wheels are in motion. It’s time to get back to work at the start of August and prepare for the two very big series in South Africa and Bangladesh. I’m looking forward to that and drawing a line in the sand and moving forward,” he said.
Taylor, who is yet to don the Zimbabwe jersey since the national team’s failure to qualify for next year’s ICC World Cup in March, also dismissed fears that he would walk away from playing for his country again like he did in 2015 when he took up a Kolpak contract with English county side Nottinghamshire.
“I certainly haven’t at any stage considered moving away from Zimbabwe Cricket.
Coming back from England and signing a long deal with Zimbabwe Cricket means that I’m here to stay.
“I want to finish my playing days here with Zimbabwe and contribute on and off the field and make sure that Zimbabwe Cricket is left in a better place that when I personally and other players started our careers and is in good hands,” he said.
The former Zimbabwe captain said as a senior player he felt duty-bound to stand up for the players’ rights, hence his decision to spearhead the formation of a new players’ representative union.
“Obviously towards the back end of your career those are the most important things players need to be doing and making an impact and ensuring that there’s an association and young players who are coming through can benefit from what you will have left behind,” Taylor said.
“Forming an association was a collective decision from a few senior players. We decided it was the right time to formulate an association, which is within our rights.”
While ZC has in the past frustrated efforts by the players to form a representative body, Taylor revealed that the current board had expressed willingness to work with them and other stakeholders including ex-players
“Zimbabwe Cricket are now more than happy to work with an association, which is positive news. There are a few more boxes that still need to be ticked, but it’s gained some momentum, players are jumping on board and it’s all very exciting for the future,” he said.
“There are some good people who are willing to represent the association, ex-players who have a wealth of knowledge and are passionate about Zimbabwe Cricket. I have all the faith in the association working and benefiting the franchise and all players, which is the ultimate goal.
“It’s been work in progress, but it’s getting there. I might have been a little bit vocal on social media at times, but it’s just trying to explain to the players the benefits of an association and the key benefits it has even in other countries, the good thing is that the players understand the importance of all that,” he said.
While Taylor’s absence during the recent international assignments against Australia and Pakistan was strongly felt, he has also been making a difference elsewhere through various charitable initiatives.
“I have been involved in anti-poaching campaigns and also making a difference in the lives of sick children in hospitals. I believe as players we are in a position to make a huge impact and that’s what I have done.”
Taylor will be making a donation to Parirenyatwa Hospital’s pediatric ward this week after making a similar gesture in May.
The talented batsman has also been involved in anti-poaching initiatives and was last month named brand ambassador of the Bum Hills Foundation having made significant financial contribution towards the ongoing running costs of the Bumi Hills Anti-Poaching Unit.
“I’ve focused a lot on Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and I will be going back there again next week to donate some warm winter clothes. We are also about to launch two memorabilia artifacts that are going to go on a worldwide auction for an anti-poaching campaign in Kariba for the Bumi Hills Foundation to try and stem the flow of poaching of elephants which has been rife in recent years.
“In the coming weeks I’d also like to focus on orphanages and breast cancer awareness,” Taylor said.