Zimbabwe board has no money to pay for players' meals in hotel

FPOff the field, India vs Zimbabwe is a study in contrast of cricket's princes, paupers

Last week, after taking a 3-0 series lead, the boisterous Indian cricket team left the Harare Sports Club in a rush to celebrate the triumph at their hotel.

But their rivals, the Zimbabweans, like on all match days, were in no hurry to leave.

With no team hotel to go to, their dinner was a buffet at the venue. Besides, the home players had to also discuss car pool arrangements or figure out public transport schedules to reach Bulawayo for the second leg of the series.

In Bulawayo, for the last two games, the Zimbabweans have checked in at Holiday Inn. But the team still has to travel to the stadium three times a day for meals.

Zimbabwe cricket's financial woes are not a secret but the fact that the Test-nation's cricket body cannot afford to pay for the breakfast, lunch and dinner of its players at the team hotel or arrange for their transport points to a near-bankruptcy.

Former opener Grant Flower, who is now the team's batting coach, accepts that Zimbabwean cricket is in trouble and adds to the gloom by saying that there is no silver-lining in sight. "We are struggling. I'm not sure when we will come out of it. I don't know the exact answers but Zimbabwe cricket is under heavy debt," said Flower. "If this continues, our cricket might soon lose its identity."

The one-sided games in the series have brought to focus the contrasting skills of the two young teams. Beyond the boundary, the disparity in resources and in the incentives the two countries provide their teams is far more stark. The world's richest board and the one that is barely managing to provide basic amenities to its players have hardly anything in common.

In India, a Grade-A central contract fetches skipper Virat Kohli close to $186,000 a year. His counterpart Brendan Taylor earns around $6,000 a year - just $1,000 more than what every member of the Indian team is paid for participating in an ODI. Besides the match fee, the Indians also get a daily allowance of $80.

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