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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 November, 2004, 16:32 GMT
Zimbabwe tour timeline
The saga surrounding England's cricket tour to Zimbabwe has taken another twist with a number of journalists being refused permission to enter the country to cover the one-day series.

The entire tour could now be in doubt once again. BBC Sport looks back at a controversy which has rumbled on for over a year.

12 Feb 2003: After a two-month controversy, the England and Wales Cricket Board pulls the national team out of a scheduled World Cup fixture in Harare because of fears over player safety.

26 Sept 2003: Lord MacLaurin, chairman of sponsors Vodafone, urges the ECB to scrap the tour, claiming it would damage the image of the England team and his company.

ZCU boss Peter Chingoka
The reputation of the ECB will be tarnished and the fragile unity of the international game will be destabilised
Peter Chingoka (Dec 2003)

10 Dec 2003: Zimbabwe Cricket Union chief Peter Chingoka insists his organisation is "apolitical" and calls on the ECB to honour their commitment to tour.

21 Jan 204: Des Wilson, chairman of the ECB's corporate affairs committee, submits framework document which suggests moral issues should be taken into account when deciding whether tours should take place.

"Can we tour this country knowing what we do about its stance on human rights and the suffering of its people?" he tells The Times.

23 Jan 2004: Foreign Secretary Jack Straw tells the ECB the situation in Zimbabwe is worse than during the 2003 World Cup when England refuased to play there.

25 Jan 2004: ECB chief executive Tim Lamb claims Straw's letter is "tantamount to an instruction" to cancel the trip.

27 Jan 2004: The ZCU e-mails the first-class counties in England to warn them of the financial consequences if the ECB cancels the tour.

"A claim for damages and compensation would run to millions of pounds," says Chingoka.

28 Jan 2004: ICC president Ehsan Mani says: "I think the reality is that England will not tour Zimbabwe in November."

29 Jan 2004: The ECB agrees to defer a decison on the tour until after the ICC's Executive Board meeting in March.

10 Mar 2004: The ECB learns they could face a minimum 1.1m fine and a ban from the ICC if the tour is cancelled. "Touring teams are expected to fulfil their touring obligations," says Mani.

2 Apr 2004: Corporate affairs director John Read says a one-year ban from international cricket could cost England tens of millions of pounds. As far asthe tour is concerned, he adds: "It's a case of damned if we do, and damned if we don't."

20 Apr 2004: Professional Cricketers' Association chief Richard Bevan says the ECB must "take the lead" and not leave a decision on the tour to individual players.

David Morgan and Tim Lamb
Morgan and Lamb found themselves running out of options
21 Apr 2004: Coach Duncan Fletcher supports Bevan's view, saying: "I think it's very important the ECB deals with the matter and takes it out of the players' hands."

28 Apr 2004: Wilson quits the ECB, having failed to persuade members to take a tough line and adopt his framework document.

He hits out at the ICC, claiming that its "malevolent enforcement of its international tours programme, with draconian and disproportionate penalties, would devastate the English game."

29 Apr 2004: Lamb acknowledges the tour is likely to go ahead, saying the players will go "with heavy hearts".

5 May 2004: Prime Minister Tony Blair reaffirms the government's opposition to the tour, but says they cannot order England not to go.

6 May 2004: ECB officials meet the foreign secretary and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell for talks. "Sport is not run by politicians and nor should it ever be," they are told.

10 Jun 2004: The ICC decides to suspend Zimbabwe's Test status for the rest of the year, but still expects ther ECB to go ahead with the one-day internationals as scheduled.

1 Jul 2004: Mani reveals the ECB has agreed the tour will take place.

9 Sept 2004: The ECB confirms England will play five one-day matches in Zimbabwe "in the absence of firm instruction from the government not to tour."

England captain Michael Vaughan
I feel that I have a duty to my team-mates to lead the team on this tour
Michael Vaughan (Sept 2004)

19 Sept 2004: Fast bowler Steve Harmison says he will not make the trip. He adds: "I hope nobody questions my commitment. Being part of this team means so much to me."

28 Sept 2004: The England squad for Zimbabwe is named. Andrew Flintoff and Marcus Trescothick are "rested" but Michael Vaughan says he will lead the team and Ashley Giles declines to opt out after being given the option.

29 Sept 2004: Flintoff reveals he would have boycotted the tour if he had not been left out of the squad. "From everything I read and heard, things have got worse in Zimbabwe," he says.

27 Oct 2004: Bevan and ECB official John Carr confirm it is safe for the team to undertake the tour after visiting Harare and Bulawayo to discuss security arrangements.

11 Nov 2004: Skipper Vaughan admits: "It's not a tour I'm particularly looking forward to. I'm looking forward to it being over and getting to South Africa for a real tough Test series."

14 Nov 2004: England Test batsman Graham Thorpe accuses the ECB of "bullying" players to make the trip.

15 Nov 2004: The squad sets out for Namibia, where they will play two warm-up matches. Morgan insists: "We go with a clear conscience but with great sympathy for the people of Zimbabwe."

23 Nov 2004: England complete the second of two warm-up matches in Namibia. Shortly afterwards, the BBC and four English newspapers learn their journalists will not be allowed into Zimbabwe to cover the series. The first one-day international starts is due to start in three days.

24 Nov 2004: England cancel their flight to Zimbabwe from South Africa pending further discussions on the media accreditation issue.

25 Nov 2004: England threaten to boycott if the ban is not lifted, and the tour is back on after the Zimbabwe government perform an about turn and accredit the journalists concerned.

26 Nov 2004: England finally fly to Harare, but the first match scheduled for Friday is cancelled. The series is reduced to four matches.

5 December 2004: England beat Zimbabwe by 74 runs in Bulawayo to complete a 4-0 clean sweep. One of the most controversial tours in the game's history comes to an end.

Security group to visit Zimbabwe
14 Oct 04 |  International Teams
Zimbabwe rebels appeal to ICC
11 Oct 04 |  Cricket
Zim board ready for report
10 Oct 04 |  Cricket

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