Overshadowed by threats of a player strike over unpaid wages,Zimbabwes two-Test series against Pakistan is set to begin on Tuesday with the home team hit by serious financial problems and even more unsettled than usual. Zimbabwe coach Andy Waller warned the player pay issue will likely spill over to the tests,making the southern African teams quest for a rare series win even harder.
After threatening to go on strike before the tour over match fees and then refusing to train on the eve of Saturdays third one-day international because of unpaid monthly salaries,Zimbabwes players have now given their national body until Monday to make the outstanding payments.
New coach Waller sees the issue as a major distraction ahead of the opening Test in Harare. Unfortunately I think it will be spilling into (the Test series) because I dont think its all been solved yet, Waller said. Im not 100 percent sure,but Im under the impression that nothing is definite yet. Theres no doubt about it,its still on their minds.
With its underdog opposition in such turmoil,Pakistan will have little excuse for a defeat and having lifted themselves to an ODI series win after surprisingly dropping the first game,the tourists will expect to continue winning despite talking of caution.
When we were here in 2011,they really gave us a tough time in the test match, Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq said,and the way theyre playing we should not take them lightly,because they are playing good cricket. We have to be really on top of our game.
Zimbabwe is only two years on from its return to Tests after a self-imposed exile because of the countrys failed cricket structure,but the problems that forced it to give up Tests in 2005 already are back.
Im trying to do the best I can, Waller said. Unfortunately I have no control of the other issues that are going on. Ive just got to try and get them (players) to push those problems aside as much as they can and focus on the cricket,which is really the only thing I can do,and just hope that they can try and be mentally strong to be able to handle those situations.
Away from financial issues,Wallers worries also include the ability of a bowling attack depleted by the early retirement of fast bowler Kyle Jarvis,who chose English county cricket over his country because of the ongoing problems. Legspinner Graeme Cremer is also absent against Pakistans formidable batting line-up.