THE England cricket captain and team were named this week for the tour of Zimbabwe in November. A reluctant Michael Vaughan has been appointed to lead a party lacking a few “conscientious objectors” from the sides that have done so well this year. Yet it is by no means certain that the tour will take place. There are several administrative, legal, and moral hurdles that have to be cleared before bat can be laid on ball.

The most immediate of these hurdles is the outcome of a meeting that should have taken place in Harare this week. This was to have been a hearing by the International Cricket Council (ICC) into alleged racism against 15 white cricketers on the part of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU). Two senior legal figures, one from India and one from South Africa, were due to hear the evidence and make recommendations to the ICC before its next executive board meeting in mid-October. If racism were to be proved the ICC could suspend the Zimbabweans from all international cricket. However, the hearings were abandoned without any evidence being heard because neither the ZCU nor the players could agree on who should and should not be present while certain evidence was submitted.

Another factor in this game is the Federation of International Cricket Associations (FICA) which represents professional cricketers' associations round the world. It could take action, for instance by boycotting cricket in Zimbabwe, regardless of what the ICC decides to do, or not do, in the absence of any report from its legal team in Harare. Since no one seems to want to take responsibility in this matter there must be an even chance that, for the second time, England's tour will be abandoned.


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