Zimbabwe rescinds journalists' ban to save England cricket tour

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Zimbabwe's first one–day game against England was postponed on Thursday but the tour goes ahead after the Zimbabwean government reversed its decision and allowed 13 banned British journalists into the country.

Zimbabwe's first one–day game against England was postponed on Thursday but the tour goes ahead after the Zimbabwean government reversed its decision and allowed 13 banned British journalists into the country.

The two teams were due to meet in Harare on Friday. But England's decision to stay in Johannesburg while the issue of the banned 13 journalists was resolved had meant a delayed arrival in the Zimbabwe capital.

"The whole incident is regrettable but has been resolved," England and Wales Cricket Board chairman David Morgan told the British Broadcasting Corp.

"We are expecting the tour to proceed with some minor rescheduling."

That would mean Sunday's second game being the first in the five–game series and the canceled match being rescheduled for later in the tour.

The ECB said the players, who canceled their flight to Zimbabwe on Wednesday, were now due to board a plane in Johannesburg on Friday to fly to Harare.

The Zimbabwe government's Information Department blamed incomplete accreditation forms by some of the journalists for the delay, saying it had now cleared all 55 who applied to cover the five one–day internationals, the state–run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp. reported.

After Zimbabwe's announcement, the players went into a meeting with officials at their hotel.

Morgan earlier told the BBC that the tour would have been called off unless a "significant number" of the banned journalists were allowed into Zimbabwe to cover the matches.

Walpole said the players would not give any interviews or be involved in the decision–making process.

Morgan, who was in Harare for crisis talks with Zimbabwe cricket board directors and officials, did not immediately comment on the lifting of the media ban.

Zimbabwe Cricket Union vice chairman Ahmed Ebrahim said the refusal to accredit some British cricket writers and television commentators was nothing to do with Zimbabwe Cricket.

"It is strictly a government decision and nothing to do with us," he said. "We are only concerned with running cricket here. Accreditation is not down to us at all, we merely submit the applications."

The ECB risked a minimum US$2 million (?1.52 million) fine if its team didn't make the tour, and the International Cricket Council had warned the media ban was not justification for canceling.

"We've advised them that (the media ban) doesn't constitute grounds for acceptable noncompliance under the contract that the ECB and Zimbabwe have entered into," ICC spokesman Brendan McClements said in London.

Morgan, however, believed the ICC would not impose a sanction if England called off the tour.

Meanwhile the young Zimbabwe squad, waiting to learn whether they will be playing against England Friday, were practicing and training under coach Phil Simmons, the former West Indies allrounder.

Under the original schedule, England was to play matches against Zimbabwe in Harare on Friday and Sunday, then travel to Bulawayo for one–dayers on Dec. 1, 4 and 5 before returning to Johannesburg on Dec. 6 for a five–test tour of South Africa.

Comments