Government clears way for Zimbabwe tour

The realities of international cricket politics appear to have convinced the Government that there is little alternative to England's tour of Zimbabwe in October going ahead. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said yesterday that, although he did not like the idea of England visiting the strife-torn country, he did not believe the future of the English game should be put in jeopardy by penalties imposed by the International Cricket Council if the tour was cancelled.

In a written reply to Michael Ancram, his Conservative opposite number, Straw acknowledged the "very difficult decision" the England and Wales Cricket Board had to take, particularly in the light of the ICC's meeting in March, which voted to impose financial penalties if the tour was called off without Government advice to do so.

Straw added: "This meeting appears to have given the ECB a choice between a tour which is difficult to defend on moral grounds and financial penalties which might bankrupt the game. I do not like the idea of an England team touring Zimbabwe any more than you do, but I do not believe that the future of English cricket should be put in jeopardy as a result of the failure of others to acknowledge the appalling situation there."

The Foreign Secretary said the Government had no powers to ban a sporting organisation from touring. "There is no evidence that any ministerial statement would be sufficient for the International Cricket Council to allow the ECB to postpone the tour," he wrote. "In those circumstances, I do not believe it would be right that the British taxpayer should have to carry the financial liability which could flow from cancellation of the tour."

He added: "Later this month, the Australian cricket team is due to tour Zimbabwe and you will be aware of the statements made by the Australian Government on this issue. Their opposition to the Mugabe regime - like ours - is beyond question. Yet they also believe that decisions about cricket tours must remain with the relevant cricketing authorities."

David Morgan, the ECB chairman, said he believed England would be kicked out of the ICC if they refused to tour. "Sri Lanka are in Zimbabwe and Australia are planning to go," he said. "Why shouldn't England go? Against that background, the board members and directors of the ECB believe that, provided it is safe and secure, this tour has to go ahead. I do not believe England touring or not touring will make any difference to the situation in Zimbabwe."

Some players have already voiced doubts about touring and it is believed England may send a second-string side as the ECB grudgingly fulfils its obligation.

It also remains to be seen how critics will view this apparent about-turn by the Government, which until now had offered little but condemnation for those suggesting that English cricket should have anything to do with Zimbabwe. By taking this stance, it appears that English cricket has a price, no matter how strongly anyone feels about the morals of giving credibility to Mugabe's evil regime. There must be doubts whether the short-term gain from this decision will have more far-reaching effects in the future.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links