Zimbabwe delivers final insult, drops Olonga yet again

Published: Friday, February 28, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Bulawayo: Zimbabwe fast bowler Henry Olonga was left in no doubt on Friday that his international career was over when it was claimed the selectors had chosen an injured player ahead of him for the World Cup clash against The Netherlands. Olonga, who joined teammate Andy Flower in a black armband protest against the regime of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, was dropped after playing the first match of the tournament against Namibia.

He missed the games with India and Australia and learnt on Friday that Douglas Hondo had been selected to face the Dutch despite aggravating a groin strain against Australia. 'The Times' in London claimed that Olonga, the only viable alternative to Hondo, was ignored because of his protest against Mugabe. His fellow protestor Andy Flower has continued to play and has since exchanged a black wristband for white armbands to carry on his protest despite coming under severe pressure from the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) to abandon the gesture which also included a statement from the two players mourning 'the death of democracy' in the country.

The reports added that the ZCU is sticking rigidly to a policy of fielding three black players in every game and Olonga was the only other black player who could come in for Hondo. "Henry is already half-thinking that his career is half-over," Flower told the newspaper. "He's very pessimistic about his chances of ever representing Zimbabwe again. "But we've got to make sure that doesn't happen again. It's appalling that he's not playing against Holland in place of Hondo, but we have to start by doing something about this scandal of him not being allowed to field."

Flower was reportedly going to be dropped for the game against Australia for "gross insubordination" before his team-mates threatened to go on strike and secured his place in the side. Olonga was last week sacked by his domestic team, Takashinga Cricket Club, following his black armband protest. Copyright AFP 2001

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