Zimbabwe rebels may form side to tour England

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The Independent Online

Zimbabwe's 15 white rebel cricketers are considering touring England in an effort to earn some money while their dispute with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union rumbles on.

The players were fired by the ZCU after they made themselves unavailable over what they consider to be racially driven selection policies in their home country. They were given the idea of touring by David Folb, the chairman of Lashings, the Kent-based celebrity cricket side. Folb said: "I'm trying to formulate a Zimbabwe Exiles side to get them playing once again. I'm absolutely speechless that the authorities are otherwise going to lose a great cricketing side."

The former Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak said: "There have been a few ideas to keep the guys in cricket. We thought of getting some games together, or just getting them playing some club cricket," he said. "A tour is certainly being looked at. That is one of the ideas that have been thrown at us from people who are sympathetic to our cause and who are trying to help us."

Streak, whose sacking as captain sparked the dispute, said it was important the rebels kept playing at whatever level. "They're not employed, and I don't want them to run away and plot other things," he said. "It will be hard for them to then turn around and start playing cricket again. At least if they stay in the game once this is resolved we can get them back and playing again."

The batsman Grant Flower said: "There are quite a few logistics to sort out. But it is a possibility because the guys have got some good marketability in England at the moment."

Streak is most likely to lead the proposed travelling outfit. "I've obviously got to make a living," he said. "If there's no resolution to this whole thing then I've got to look at making the best of the years I've got left in cricket so I can get myself into a stable financial position to support my family. I've lost a lot of income out of not playing."

Streak would be in a difficult situation, however, because he is signed up to play for Warwickshire this summer.

Folb, who shares his house with Henry Olonga, the player who along with Andy Flower made an anti-Robert Mugabe stand at the 2003 World Cup and then walked out of the side, said: "I've spoken to three or four of the players and some potential investors who are very, very positive. I am not saying I support the players' stance. All I feel is that we can't afford to start losing a Test country."