• Last updated on Fri, 15 Jun, 2018, 07:33 PM
Despite ZC’s best efforts to dissuade him, Raza Butt has opted to play in the GT20 Canada. © Getty
Zimbabwe Cricket have moved to stave off a player strike during next month’s triangular series with Australia and Pakistan, but have already lost the services of one of their top players. Despite ZC’s best efforts to dissuade him, Sikandar Raza Butt has opted to play in the Global T20 Canada, in the process providing a reminder of the route that Zimbabwe’s better players will increasingly take so long as they go unappreciated and unpaid at home.
National contracts in Zimbabwe are supposed to be valid until the end of July, which in normal circumstances would give ZC the initiative in any country vs T20 franchise clash. But because ZC currently owe their players several months salary as well as almost a year’s worth of match fees, they are in breach of contract.
Cricbuzz has confirmed that after being picked by the Montreal Tigers in the Global T20 draft, Raza intends to play in the new tournament rather than represent Zimbabwe in the T20 tri-series. He has, however, made himself available for the one-day international series against Pakistan that follows, although he could miss the first game if Montreal qualify for the playoffs.
The Canadian tournament runs from June 28 to July 15. Zimbabwe’s tri-series is scheduled to take place in Harare from 1 to 8 July, before the hosts play Pakistan in five ODIs between 13 and 22 July in Bulawayo. Raza has spent the past month playing for Shelley Cricket Club in the Huddersfield Premier League, but is due to return to Zimbabwe on Monday (June 18). He is expected to meet interim selection convener Walter Chawaguta and interim coach Lalchand Rajput the following day to discuss his participation in the ODI series.
Meanwhile, the plight of the tri-series has effectively been left in the players’ hands after ZC confirmed that salaries would only be brought up to date towards the end of July. The players had demanded that ZC settle all outstanding money by the end of June, and threatened to pull out of the tri-series if that did not happen. While ZC paid the national players their March salary last week, that courtesy was not extended to franchise players. Salaries for April and May are still outstanding, as well as match fees stretching back to last July’s tour of Sri Lanka.
ZC are due to receive their next disbursement from the ICC in July and, according to a source, have promised to bring player salaries up to date by the end of that month. However that assurance may not be enough to secure the players’ participation in the tri-series. The lack of payment has created a sense of unity among the players, who are in the process of establishing a players’ association. According to the source, the players’ main concern with refusing to play the tri-series is whether it could lead to Zimbabwe facing an ICC suspension in the event that the series is called off.