Harare: Zimbabwe's return to Test cricket has been overshadowed by another player-board rift after the national body expressed "concern and regret" over comments by former captain Tatenda Taibu comparing the current setup to a newly-painted house with rotten foundations.

On the eve of the troubled African country's first Test in six years - one-off match against Bangladesh, starting on Thursday - Zimbabwe Cricket said the timing of Taibu's "public outburst" was "unfortunate, if not a little cynical."

In a surprise attack, the wicketkeeper-batsman, who is set to play against Bangladesh, said in an interview with a cricket website that the problems that forced Zimbabwe into a damaging, self-imposed exile from Tests remained.

Taibu said in the interview that players haven't been paid match fees since last August, didn't have contracts and administrators were still struggling to run cricket. The game was in danger of dying in Zimbabwe and players and coaches were getting little help from the people in charge.

Some of Taibu's comments - two days before Zimbabwe's first Test since a 2-0 home series loss to India in late 2005 - were also made to a group of reporters.

Zimbabwe Cricket denied players hadn't been paid salaries but conceded match fees "have been deferred from time to time while cash flow improves with our return to international cricket."

It added: "There are many thousands of people less well off than Tatenda who could be seriously harmed by his comments."

But it also said the 28-year-old Taibu, who has played 24 Tests and 136 One-day Internationals, would still be in the team against Bangladesh as one of Zimbabwe's few experienced players.

"In any other country a senior player could expect significant sanction from his board for such a public outburst," the joint statement from ZC managing director Ozias Bvute and chairman of selectors Alistair Campbell said. "But we see little point in doing that and wish him the very best in the test match. He is one of our finest cricketers."

Taibu was captain when Zimbabwe withdrew from tests because of a fallout between senior players and the board amid a deteriorating political and economic situation in the country ruled by longtime president Robert Mugabe. It led many leading cricketers to flee for foreign club and county teams.

"To tell you the truth, personally nothing much has changed," Taibu told reporters. "When people look from outside they might think that everything is OK but it's not. It is the same as painting a house to make it look good but the foundation is rotten.

"I can't fault the coaching staff. They have really worked hard. The guys are still giving 100 percent and working hard but they are not getting much support from the administration."

Since the low of six years ago, Zimbabwe has restructured its domestic game and has managed to attract back many of its best players. Former internationals Grant Flower, brother of England coach Andy Flower and Heath Streak have also returned to join the national coaching staff under Englishman Alan Butcher. Head selector Campbell is a former national captain.

However, Zimbabwe's results on the pitch have barely improved.

Last month, under new captain Brendan Taylor, it lost heavily to Australia's 'A' team in two four-day matches which were meant to prepare it for the test return against Bangladesh.

(Agencies)