September 20, 2001

England's tour to Zimbabwe goes ahead

It might have happened virtually at the last minute, but England's tour to Zimbabwe has finally received clearance to go ahead.

With the team due to fly out next week and the first match, against Zimbabwe A, scheduled for October 1st, the two sets of authorities have concluded exhaustive talks with a statement to the effect that obstacles to the tour taking place have finally been cleared.

The England and Wales Cricket Board and the Zimbabwe Cricket Union had to overcome problems caused by the political situation in the country, and the reluctance of the government in Zimbabwe to grant accreditation to the entire English media contingent. A particular doubt had been raised by the intention of the BBC to cover the tour. That organisation's news reporters have been banned by the president, Robert Mugabe, after what were regarded as unfavourable comments about his government.

As keen as they were for the tour to go ahead on cricketing grounds, the ECB officials were reluctant to continue unless access was granted to all the British media organisations that wanted to cover a tour that includes five one-day internationals. Now, however, it has been agreed that work permits will be issued to all those who have applied for them.

ECB chief executive Tim Lamb said, "This has been a long process, but we're delighted the Zimbabwe Cricket Union have now agreed to allow all the media to enter the country to cover the tour."

It was thought that a replacement for James Ormond, the injured Leicestershire pace bowler, would be announced earlier this week but, as yet, his place in the party remains to be filled.