Zimbabwe cricketers are threatening to go on strike following delays in the payment of their salaries and have given their board a deadline of December 15 to pay up. ESPNcricinfo has confirmed that the players will travel to Mutare and Kwekwe, the venues for Sunday's Pro50 matches, but will not take the field until they have received their dues.
It was learnt that players on national contract had not received payments for the last four months, while dues to players on domestic contracts had been delayed by two months. ESPNcricinfo understands Zimbabwe Cricket has asked the ICC for an additional loan of US$3 million but an insider said the ICC may only agree to that if ZC provided an audit of the funds they received from the Targeted Assistance and Performance Programme earlier this year. Some of that money is believed to have been used to pay match fees for the Pakistan series, over which the Zimbabwe players threatened to strike.
In August this year, the Zimbabwe cricketers had formed a union to participate in salary negotiations prior to the series against Pakistan. The board's financial condition also resulted in Sri Lanka's tour to the country in October being deferred. That delay meant the national team would not play from September until February next year, and a lack of match practice was a major concern ahead of the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.
This week a solution emerged with Afghanistan willing to pay their own way for three T20s and an ODI in Zimbabwe in January. It has now emerged that ZC is exploring the possibility of playing those matches in Bangladesh, rather than at home. Part of the rationale for that is to acclimatise to subcontinent conditions but it is understood that a lack of funding is also a consideration.
The domestic competitions in Zimbabwe, scheduled to begin in November, were also delayed due to financial problems but the tournaments were finally held without any sponsors.