CSA sit tight on Zimbabwe

Cricket South Africa and the players representatives, the South African Cricketers Association (Saca), will meet next week to thrash out arrangements for Zimbabwe's inclusion in South Africa's professional domestic competitions.

In the meanwhile, Zimbabwe's participation in the SuperSport Series has been put on hold. The matter was discussed at a special meeting of Cricket South Africa's General Council held yesterday.

Zimbabwe's participation in the three domestic competitions; the four-day SuperSport Series, 45-over MTN Domestic Championship and the Standard Pro20 Series, had caused a furore earlier this week when Saca objected to the unilateral fashion in which CSA sought to force Zimbabwe's inclusion in the local competitions.

The move was an attempt by CSA to help Zimbabwe improve the playing standards of their national team in preparation for their return to the international arena.

However, CSA, who announced Zimbabwe's inclusion in the SuperSport Series on Monday, made that decision without first consulting domestic players.

Zimbabwe were due to play the Highveld Lions in Harare this weekend, but that match was postponed after Saca intervened on the players' behalf.

Player representatives of the six franchise teams met in Cape Town this week to voice their objections to the decision.

Among their objections were that Zimbabwe would be involved with international commitments during the season and would in some instances field a weakened team, meaning that while some of the franchises would face Zimbabwe's top senior side, others would play against a virtual junior team.

Saca CEO Tony Irish yesterday reiterated the association's support for helping Zimbabwe, but said it could not be done to the detriment of South Africa's domestic players or competitions.

"We are still keen and feel we've got to assist Zimbabwe to improve their standard, but it must be done to the benefit of our system," Irish explained.

Zimbabwe were set to play just one round of the SuperSport Series because of their late entry into the competition. All their matches were to have taken place in Zimbabwe. The South African franchises were set to earn log points from those matches. CSA also initially proposed that the Zimbabweans would play a full role in the MTN Championship and the Pro20 Series.

However, now it would appear that Zimbabwe will play no role whatsoever in the SuperSport Series and that CSA, in conjunction with Saca, will seek alternative arrangements to provide Zimbabwe with some four-day matches.

It is likely, said Irish, that they would play four-day matches outside of the SuperSport Series

Further discussions between Saca and CSA were due to take place regarding the two limited overs competitions.

For one, scheduling needed to be rearranged, but with those two competitions set to be played in February and March next year, Irish said there was still time for better arrangements to be made.

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