Andrew Strauss has hinted that England's players will consider boycotting games against Zimbabwe should the 2009 series against them go ahead.
Speaking at the MCC Spirit of Cricket evening at Lord's, where the guests included Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, Strauss told an audience of 1400 that if Robert Mugabe stays in power then there was a real chance that some of the team would not be prepared to play against Zimbabwe.
"In the past there've been opportunities for the government to show the strength of feeling among the general population here and the government chose not to," he said. "If it comes down to players to do that, we'll definitely have to look at it.
"There's a feeling on previous tours that the players have been left in the lurch by both the government and the ECB. There's a great sense among the general population that our last tour to Zimbabwe shouldn't have gone ahead. It's come down to a certain extent to personal preference and there have been some tough decisions made in previous tours.
"When we come round to the issue again we all hope that the political situation in Zimbabwe is very different. But if it isn't there are going to be more very difficult decisions to be made."
Strauss was speaking as a member of a panel, along with Barry Richards and Mike Brearley, in a question-and-answer session which followed Archbishop Desmond Tutu's Spirit of Cricket lecture at Lord's.
Richards said that the ICC had missed an opportunity in not taking action against Zimbabwe before now. "I think the ICC are erring and it frustrates the hell out of me that Zimbabwe have not been brought to book. It's a moral issue and what he [Robert Mugabe] is doing everybody knows is simply not right ... cricket can play a part in that and it's not."
Click here to listen to the Q&A session as well as Archbishop Desmond Tutu's Spirit of Cricket lecture