Zimbabwe in talks over rebels

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The Independent Online

Talks aimed at ending the crisis in Zimbabwe began in Harare yesterday. The Zimbabwe Cricket Union has come under pressure from the International Cricket Council to settle a row with the 15 rebel players which led to the loss of Test status for the rest of the year.

Talks aimed at ending the crisis in Zimbabwe began in Harare yesterday. The Zimbabwe Cricket Union has come under pressure from the International Cricket Council to settle a row with the 15 rebel players which led to the loss of Test status for the rest of the year.

The sport's governing body gave the Zimbabwe Cricket Union 14 days from 30 June to find a solution. The ICC wants the problem solved internally but says it will intervene if the deadline is not met.

The dispute began when Heath Streak was sacked as captain of the national team. He and the rest of the rebel group boycotted the home series against Sri Lanka and Australia, forcing the ZCU to field a weakened side. The Tests scheduled against Australia were cancelled, with the ICC voicing its determination to protect the "integrity" of Test cricket.

This led to a proposal that Zimbabwe should not play Test cricket again until 2005. The ZCU maintains that the ICC cannot impose a solution on the Union but the game's governing body is confident it has the legal authority to do so.

"We recognise that this is a Zimbabwean dispute and our clear preference is to have it resolved in Zimbabwe by Zimbabweans," Ehsan Mani, the ICC president, said. "If there is no agreement on the process, the newly elected ICC vice-president, Percy Sonn, and I will make a final decision on application of the ICC's Disputes Resolution Process after this 14-day period.

"The ZCU is firmly of the view that this system has no jurisdiction but the ICC's legal advice is clear in saying that it does."

The rebel faction have formed a team called the Red Lions and will play the first of six one-day matches in England on 14 July.

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