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Real Reason I'm Not Going to Zimbabwe

The decision to rest me from the tour to Zimbabwe saved me having to tell the rulers of English cricket that I would not be going anyway.

In fact my mind was made up 19 months ago in South Africa when we decided to boycott our World Cup match there.

Nothing has changed since all those meetings and problems we had in Cape Town when sport and politics became an intolerable mix.So I told the captain and coach last week that I was not available for the tour.   From everything I have read and heard, things have got worse in Zimbabwe.  

Most of us have seen the images from there and the situation
looks horrific.   I didnít want to go then so why should I go now.
Concern over our safety was a factor 19 months ago, but the main reason I didnít want to go was because of the moral issue. 

One of the things we talked about then was what would happen to people who might want to use our matches for peaceful demonstrations.  Can you imagine how weíd have felt if we heard they had been treated badly?  The same thoughts apply now and I wouldnít want it on my conscience.

We had three days of meetings and gave away a chance of winning the World Cup by not playing our match in Zimbabwe.   It was a very draining time.  We were in meetings virtually non-stop and about the only time we came out was or meals.   It certainly wasnít the ideal way to prepare for the gameís
biggest tournament.

Iím not blind to whatís happening in the world and the situation in Zimbabwe looks bad.   My reasons for not going are similar to my close friend Steve Harmisonís, but I want to make it very clear that I have nothing against any of the players who have decided to go on the tour. Itís nothing to do with me and I certainly wonít be urging any of them to pull out.This is a totally personal decision on my part and I wish the lads who go
all the luck in the world.   

In fact, the Zimbabwe tour has not been a massive talking point in the England dressing room this summer.  Thereís been so much intensive cricket and thatís what weíve been focusing on, but itís always been in the back of my mind, knowing that a decision would have to be made one way or the other at the end of the season.

To be honest, I pretty much made up my mind 19 months ago that I wouldnít go to Zimbabwe unless things in the country improved dramatically and they clearly havenít. But I wanted to wait until all our cricket was finished before telling anyone of my decision.
 
Going public like this is something I want to do.  Thereís been a lot of speculation, but I want people to know how I feel about the Zimbabwe issue.
 
Not that Iíll have my feet up because my fitness test results were not as good, quite understandably, as they were at the beginning of the summer so my next programme will be based accordingly.
 
I am fairly tired now so Iíll be glad of the extra rest and the chance to spend more time with Rachal and our new baby Holly.  However, Iíll be back in the gym next week to start preparing for the tour to South Africa.  If I donít keep working on my fitness Iím prone to putting on weight fairly quickly.But Iím sure Iíll be in good shape for South Africa where I believe we can build on the success weíve had this year.  Once there, Iím determined to keep my good form going.


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