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Vaughan agrees to tour Zimbabwe

By Ted Corbett

LONDON, SEPT. 28. Good old British compromise has been used to keep English cricket united once again. Michael Vaughan, the England captain, has agreed to tour Zimbabwe in the middle of November as part of the one-day international squad but senior players Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Flintoff have been given an extended holiday before the South African tour.

The successful new batsman Andrew Strauss has also agreed to go as has the spinner Ashley Giles who was given the chance to rest.

These peace moves come after two days of talks involving David Morgan, the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, as well as the selectors. Steve Harmison, the fast bowler whose dramatic improvement in form has been behind England's run of success this year, has already dropped out of the party on moral grounds. It was feared that his best pal Flintoff, Strauss, Trescothick and Giles might follow suit.

In addition, coach Duncan Fletcher had requested before returning to his home in South Africa that some players should be given a long rest, although there are eight weeks before the side gets together ahead of the tour.

Morgan, who has frequently been blamed for indecision over the Zimbabwe problem, seemed determined to follow the ICC line that the strongest possible England party should go to the country governed by Robert Mugabe, who is clearly determined to crush all his opponents.

He explained the thinking behind the team in this manner: "The Management Board have accepted the selectors' wish that three players must have an extended rest. The option of resting Michael Vaughan was also considered but after careful consideration he has decided to make the trip as captain. He deserves every credit for doing so."

Morgan emphasised that the team would not take part in State occasions during the tour.

Vaughan, whose wife gave birth to their first baby during the Leeds Test this summer, said: "I feel I have a duty to lead the team on this tour. I did not want to shirk my responsibility as England captain and I did not want to let the burden rest on another player's shoulders."

This explosive issue returns to centre stage as Nasser Hussain, the former England captain, publishes an attack on the men at the top of the England and Wales Cricket Board for their handling of the Zimbabwe problems during the 2003 World Cup when the England players voted 13-0 — with Alec Stewart and Ronnie Irani abstaining — not to play in Harare. They lost the chance of reaching the final stages after sacrificing the points they would, undoubtedly, have won.

Emotional blackmail

Hussain says that when discussion on their heated and often tearful debate was at its height, Malcolm Speed, the chief executive of ICC, would only give the players 30 minutes of his time, that Tim Lamb, who has since resigned as chief executive of the ECB, used "emotional blackmail" in an attempt to get the players to change their minds. He claims that Morgan "let us down" by trying to persuade them to go.

Hussain adds: "I lost a lot of respect for him that day. It was unforgivable."

The announcement also comes as a report from Harare says there is a water shortage in the city that causes experts to predict an outbreak of cholera about the time the England tour begins. I am not alone in wondering if any England players will make a trip that still promises to leave English in a mess when so much is going right.

The squad for five one-day matches in Zimbabwe: Michael Vaughan (capt.), Vikram Solanki, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Owais Shah, Paul Collingwood, Geraint Jones, Alex Wharf, Matthew Prior, Kabir Ali, James Anderson, Gareth Batty, Simon Jones and Darren Gough.

The squad for seven one-day matches in South Africa: Michael Vaughan (capt.), Marcus Trescothick, Vikram Solanki, Andrew Strauss, Andrew Flintoff, Paul Collingwood, Geraint Jones, Ashley Giles, Alex Wharf, Steve Harmison, James Anderson, Darren Gough, Gareth Batty, Ian Bell and Kabir Ali.

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