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Jamie Broughton reports for BBC Sport
"The ECB are still planning for the tour to go ahead"
 real 14k

David Ellman Brown of the Zimbabwean Cricket Board
"To mix politics and sport is totally unnecessary"
 real 14k

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew
"The decision will probably be made by the Foreign Office"
 real 14k

Tuesday, 14 August, 2001, 03:55 GMT 04:55 UK
England tour in doubt
England are due to play five one-day games in Zimbabwe
England will play five one-day games in Zimbabwe
England's autumn tour of Zimbabwe is under threat because of internal unrest in the African country.

Labour MP Gareth Thomas, who is secretary of the all-party parliamentary sports group, told The Times the tour should be cancelled unless the troubles subside.

"To play cricket matches in a country where the Government is clearly condoning violence against its opponents must be questionable," he said.

We are still planning to go ahead but this is being reviewed daily
  John Read, ECB
"Unless the situation improves dramatically this tour should be cancelled."

England are scheduled to play five one-day internationals in Zimbabwe in September and October before moving onto India and New Zealand.

But the political situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated in recent weeks.

More than 50 white-owned farms in the north of the country have been attacked and looted by squatters and ruling party militants.

Day-by-day review

England and Wales Cricket Board spokesman John Read admitted the matter was causing concern but insisted there are no plans to call off the visit.

Some of the farmers arrested following clashes in Chinhoyi
A number of white farmers are in police custody
He said: "We are still planning to go ahead but this is being reviewed daily."

Zimbabwe has been plunged into political and economic crisis for the past 18 months since a government-backed campaign of land seizures began.

The land invasions are widely seen as a ploy by president Robert Mugabe to overcome the threat of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, with presidential elections due by 2002.

The escalating crisis in Zimbabwe has prompted Foreign Office involvement in the planning for the tour.

A spokesman confirmed: "We are in close touch with the cricket board. The situation is being monitored."

The ECB revealed last week it would delay its announcement of the England squad for the tour - due to a number of fitness concerns over key players.

The touring party for Zimbabwe was to have been unveiled last Monday.

Instead it will be announced together with the England winter Test squad on 28 August.

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