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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 November, 2004, 10:44 GMT
England tour to Zimbabwe is on
ECB chairman David Morgan
The whole incident is regrettable but it has been resolved
ECB chairman David Morgan

England's tour of Zimbabwe will go ahead after the government lifted its ban on British journalists.

But Friday's opening one-day international in Harare has been postponed to allow England to prepare.

England had threatened to call off their tour unless a "significant number" of the 13 blocked media, including the BBC, were allowed in.

ECB chairman David Morgan said: "The whole incident is regrettable but has been resolved."

Commons leader Peter Hain insisted again that the British government were powerless to call off the tour, but admitted the go-ahead would help boost President Robert Mugabe's "murderous regime".

The England team will fly to Harare from South Africa on Friday morning.

The first match will be rescheduled although a date has not been set. The second match is set to be played in the capital on Sunday.

Morgan told BBC Radio Five Live: "We are expecting the tour to proceed with some minor rescheduling.

We're opposed to this tour, but the ECB is not a department of the government and it's free to make its own decisions
Commons leader Peter Hain

"I've talked with Duncan Fletcher. I said to him, 'you're the expert, you are surrounded by your team, we need to play these five matches, please provide your input to when you believe they should be played'."

The team had stayed in South Africa while the last-ditch discussions took place over the tour.

A Zimbabwe government spokesman had said in a statement on Wednesday that the media ban was directed at those who had been consistently hostile to the Zimbabwean authorities.

But, following the ECB's threat to cancel the tour if the ban was not lifted, Robert Mugabe's regime performed an about turn.

Zimbabwe radio quoted Information Minister Jonathan Moyo as saying: "Thirteen [of the] journalists had supplied insufficient information.

"Further enquiries have since been carried out and all journalists have been cleared for accreditation by the country's official media commission."

ICC president Ehsan Mani commended Zimbabwe Cricket and the ECB for resolving the issue.

"The non-accreditation of these cricket journalists by the Zimbabwe government was a very serious issue and the ICC welcomes the reversal of this decision," Mani said.

"The commitment of the Zimbabwe Cricket chairman, Peter Chingoka, and the ECB chairman, David Morgan, has been critical to the resolution of this issue."

The reporters concerned work for the BBC, the Times and Sunday Times, the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Mirror, the Sun, and the News of the World.

"It is extraordinary," said BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew, one of the journalists who had been banned.

"Every single piece of information we had been receiving said there would be no way the Zimbabweans would change their mind.

"Everyone had got themselves into going home mode. I know for a fact the players were planning to go home for a few days."

News conference: Jon Carr & Richard Bevan

Interview: ECB chairman David Morgan

Interview: Zimbabwe Information Minister Jonathan Moyo

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