Zimbabwe Cricket Union denies ban of Flower, Olonga

Published: Wednesday, February 12, 2003, 0:55 [IST]
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Harare: Zimbabwe's Andy Flower and Henry Olonga face an agonising wait before they hear whether or not their black armband protest and powerful condemnation of the Harare regime will cost them their cricket careers. The Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) denied a BBC report that leading batsman Flower and strike bowler Olonga have already been suspended from the national team. "That is incorrect because the committee, considering our response to their statement of Monday, has still not concluded its deliberations," Lovemore Banda, the ZCU communications manager, said.

The 'Times' in London reported on Tuesday that Olonga had been suspended from his Harare club. However, there is no immediate suggestion of any suspensions at national level. Flower and Olonga are wearing black armbands for the duration of the World Cup after condemning their country's "death of democracy" in a joint statement issued here before their opening match of the tournament against Namibia on Monday.

The two senior Zimbabwe players referred to murders, rapes, burning of homes, abductions, starvation and imprisonment for those of their countrymen expressing opinions and lamented the loss of free speech. "We are making a plea to those responsible to stop the abuse of human rights in Zimbabwe. If we do not speak out it will be taken as a sign that we do not care or we condone what is happening," said the pair.

They hoped their actions would "help to restore sanity and dignity to our nation." President Robert Mugabe is the patron of the ZCU and has a house across the street from the Harare Sports Club where Flower and Olonga made their protest. The chairman of the ZCU Peter Chingoka said there would be no statement on the matter on Tuesday, but a brief statement issued at the ground on Monday, referred to one being made once the "appropriate committee" - taken to mean the disciplinary committee - had deliberated.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is still waiting to hear whether England still intend to boycott Thursday's scheduled match as the row over security guarantees goes on. The Zimbabwe captain, Heath Streak, said, "We would much rather play them than be awarded the points by their default."


AFP Copyright AFP 2001

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