England's cricketers have finally been given the green light to tour Zimbabwe this November, after an England & Wales Cricket Board delegation found that there was no safety or security issue to prevent them from embarking on the trip.
In response to the concerns of several players, and following the withdrawal of Steve Harmison on moral grounds, the ECB sent their director of operations, John Carr, and the players' union boss, Richard Bevan, to assess the situation. They met with the Minister of Home Affairs, police chiefs in Bulawayo and Harare, ZCU security officials and members of the Zimbabwean opposition, but found no reason why the tour should not take place.
"We have satisfied ourselves that appropriate safety and security measures will be in place to protect the England touring party and officials," said the ECB chairman, David Morgan. "We are also concerned about the safety and security of travelling supporters and the media, and we concluded that Zimbabwe will provide a safe environment provided that they adhere to the Government's specific travel advice.
He and Bevan will travel with the team throughout the tour, to enable them to respond quickly to any major developments, and Bevan was keen to emphasise that the decision to tour did not amount to an endorsement of the regime. "It in no way indicates that players are seeking to condone the situation in Zimbabwe. [The British government] have not intervened on this issue and therefore we are relying on detailed assurances received from all the relevant authorities, including the British Embassy. Should such undertakings be breached there will be an immediate review of the players' position."
The squad intends to spend as little time in Zimbabwe as possible, and their itinerary has been tailored to that effect. They will fly into Harare on either November 24 or 25, and play five one-day matches in the space of ten days, before leaving for Johannesburg to embark on a five-Test tour of South Africa.