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Zimbabwe cricketers on strike again, boycott tournament as promised payments not received

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HARARE, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe's cricketers went on strike again Monday and refused to start a domestic Twenty20 tournament after payments promised by the national board to end a two-month standoff weren't received.

A representative of Zimbabwe's players' association said they also wouldn't hesitate to pull out of next month's World Twenty20 in Bangladesh if they aren't paid. He said the national board, Zimbabwe Cricket, had been "insincere" with its players.

Players from all the five provincial sides decided to boycott the T20 competition due to open Monday after a meeting at Harare Sports Club, the venue for the tournament. They decided to go home after payments didn't appear in bank accounts in the morning, as agreed by ZC at a meeting over a week ago to end the strike.

"ZC has been insincere in their dealing with the players," Eliah Zvimba, the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Professional Cricketers Association, said. "At the moment we have reached a boiling point."

Zvimba said the problem needed to be dealt with "once and for all."

Zimbabwe's national squad briefly returned to training last week, but the latest strike will have more ramifications for their preparations for the Twenty20 World Cup starting on Mar. 16. Zimbabwe hasn't played international cricket since September, when the home test series against Pakistan was also undermined by threatened strikes over non-payment. The struggling board recently cancelled tours by Sri Lanka and Afghanistan because of its financial problems and also turned down a one-off test against South Africa. There has been no domestic cricket in Zimbabwe for two months.

ZC owes a total of around $217,000 to its centrally contracted players, Zvimba said, and more to franchise players.

Former Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak said the national body's finances were in a mess.

"The thing is ZC allowed things to get to this poor state. They have huge debts," Streak said. "To get yourself out of that is hard. There are in a trap. With the reputation ZC has no one can give them things on credit. It's virtually impossible for them to get things back to normal again."

Zimbabwe Cricket reportedly has debts of $18 million and has requested a loan from the International Cricket Council.

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