Brown 'to ban' Zimbabwe cricket tour to England


Last updated at 00:24 04 January 2008


Gordon Brown is planning to call off Zimbabwe's cricket tour of England in summer 2009, Whitehall sources said last night.

The Prime Minister is ready to bring in a ban as a protest against president Robert Mugabe's murderous regime.

Scrapping the tour would show the UK is prepared to "stand up and be counted" by refusing to tolerate Mugabe driving his country to the brink of collapse.

Downing Street confirmed yesterday that ministers will hold further talks with English cricket chiefs about cancelling the invitation to Zimbabwe to play two Test matches and three one-day internationals.

Mr Brown's spokesman said only that a ban will be "discussed" but a Whitehall insider said he was ready to tell the England and Wales Cricket Board to cancel the tour.

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Freddie Flintoff

Gordon Brown

The source said: "England's cricket authorities wanted assurance from us about what to do and now they have it.

"We can't pretend it's not a matter for the government for a moment longer."

In 2004 the England cricket team controversially toured Zimbabwe rather than pay a £2m forfeit after then prime minister Tony Blair said he favoured a ban but couldn't impose one.

This time the cricket board would have to pay about £225,000 compensation but would avoid a huge fine.

Zimbabwe is no longer classified as a Test-playing nation so there is no question of million-pound settlements.

The Daily Mail revealed last month that a £200,000 cash "bribe" could be offered to Zimbabwe not to tour England.