England in Zimbabwe 2004-05 September 19, 2004

Harmison opts out of Zimbabwe tour

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Steve Harmison has taken a moral stand on the Zimbabwe issue and decided to not tour © Getty Images

Steve Harmison has ruled himself out of England's controversial tour of Zimbabwe, which is to take place in November. The series consists of five one-dayers and no Tests.

Harmison decided to boycott the trip for political and sporting reasons. A few months ago, Stuart MacGill publicly stated his intention to not visit Zimbabwe for the same reasons.

"In all honesty," said Harmison to the News of the World, "my decision was made in Cape Town over 18 months ago when England's World Cup squad spent a horrendous four days before finally deciding not to go to Harare.

"Nothing has changed for me. The situation there is worse now - that's what the official reports say - and Zimbabwe's top players have been sacked."

A spokesman for the England & Wales Cricket Board said that Harmison was the only player to have expressed a desire to stay at home, but added that no disciplinary action would be taken.

"Stephen Harmison informed Duncan Fletcher and Michael Vaughan following the ICC Champions Trophy match against Sri Lanka that he did not want to be considered for selection for the forthcoming tour of Zimbabwe.

"As the ECB has concluded that the tour must go ahead subject to it being safe and secure to do so, we have asked all the current England players and management to make themselves available. Stephen Harmison is the only player to have informed the board that he will be unavailable for the tour.

"The ECB has previously stated that any player who makes himself unavailable to tour Zimbabwe for reasons of personal conscience will not be penalised and this remains our position."