Players angry over Zimbabwe Test deal

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The Independent Online

Player power could yet upset the cricket world, after Richard Bevan, the chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, yesterday hinted at a possible worldwide boycott of the game.

Player power could yet upset the cricket world, after Richard Bevan, the chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, yesterday hinted at a possible worldwide boycott of the game.

Bevan was reacting to the deal struck between Cricket Australia's chief executive, Bob Merriman, and the Zimbabwe Cricket Union, in which both sides agreed to defer their two-Test series. That meant Zimbabwe did not suffer the ignominy of having the decision made by their fellow members of the International Cricket Council in a telephone vote yesterday.

But Bevan felt that Merriman had undermined the Federation of International Cricketers' Association's efforts to get the 15 white "rebels" reinstated. Bevan said: "Approximately one hour after Bob Merriman met with the ZCU the Zimbabweans made it clear to their players that they no longer wished to talk with them or their representatives. They were sacked and told to return their cars.

"The game may be moving towards sorting the Zimbabwe problem out, and people seem to be accepting that these 15 guys are no longer playing cricket. But we are not happy with that, and nor are players all around the world.

"There are a number of people in Zimbabwe, including members of the current team, who have major concerns with the situation. And suspending the Tests means loss of revenue to the game as a whole. As well as affecting player wages, these factors are making people think harder about maybe being riskier in what they have to do."

Any global action by players might mean England would not have to fulfil their obligation to tour Zimbabwe in November. Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief executive, suggested that the England and Wales Cricket Board should not make any decision until after the ICC's meeting on 27 June. So while the Zimbabwe question might be on the agenda for the ECB's meeting on 8 June, their position is unlikely to be clarified for some time to come.

FICA is convinced the one-day series between Zimbabwe and Australia should also have been called off. If it had, that too would have helped England's cause. As it is it will be much later this summer before any kind of decision can be made.

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