Zimbabwe bans BBC from cricket tour

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The Independent Online

The Zimbabwe government banned the BBC from covering England's controversial cricket tour of the country yesterday.

The Zimbabwe government banned the BBC from covering England's controversial cricket tour of the country yesterday.

The BBC is one of several British media organisations whose applications for accreditation did not receive clearance from the Department of Information in Harare.

England's 14-man squad travels to Zimbabwe today from Namibia, where they have just completed two warm-up matches against the national side. Although contentious, the ban on the BBC is unlikely to cause the tour to be cancelled.

This unprecedented move will come as a serious setback to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the International Cricket Council and Zimbabwe Cricket, which have been trying to ensure that England's five one-day internationals in Harare and Bulawayo pass without incident.

"I think it is totally wrong, and I am flabbergasted by the decision," said Michael Vaughan, the England captain.

"Whether you like the media or not they have a huge role to play in the game and the exposure they give, along with television and radio rights, brings in 60 per cent of the game's income.

"There is something very, very wrong if our media cannot get in and cover a tour. I don't know how a cricket tour can be called a cricket tour when our media are not involved in it.

"I wouldn't pull out because of it but I am now in direct contact with Richard Bevan, our PCA [Professional Cricketers Association] rep, asking for advice."

Mr Bevan, chief executive of the PCA, will meet and brief Vaughan and his party in Johannesburg this afternoon as they travel to Zimbabwe. David Morgan, the chairman of the ECB, and Mike Soper, who chairs one of the ECB's most powerful committees will join the squad when they arrive in Harare.

"I am very disappointed," said Mr Morgan. "When I arrive in Zimbabwe I will speak to Peter Chingoka [the president of Zimbabwe Cricket] and attempt to have the decision reversed. But I do not think this is something that will call the tour into question.

"As far as I am concerned the five matches will be played and the tour will go ahead."

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