Zimbabwe sack rebels as dispute escalates

The Zimbabwe Cricket Union have terminated the contracts of the 15 'rebel' players who have made themselves unavailable for selection.

The ZCU decided to draw a line under the ongoing saga which started last month after Heath Streak was removed as captain.

The two sides appeared to have reached a compromise two weeks ago when the players resumed practice after demanding that their "problems" with the ZCU be brought to arbitration.

Four of the rebels – Streak, Trevor Gripper, Sean Ervine and Ray Price – were then included in a provisional 17–man Zimbabwe squad to face Sri Lanka in the first Test.

However, the quartet pulled out after a breakdown in negotiations and the ZCU have now decided enough is enough.

A ZCU statement read: "At a board meeting held in Harare on Monday, May 10, the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) agreed that as of Friday May 7, 2004 at 5pm, the 15 players who have been absent from work, have violated the 21–day breach clause as stated in their contracts.

"As a result the contracts of these 15 players have been terminated."

However, the ZCU have not completely closed the door on any of the players, saying: "Any of these 15 players formerly employed by the ZCU, who wish to make themselves available for selection, on a contractual or non–contractual basis, will be individually considered subject to their commitment, form and fitness."

Zimbabwe have been forced to play a second–string side in both the one–day and Test series against Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka won all five one–day matches and claimed the first of the two Test matches by an innings and 240 runs.

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