I~~ve mixed feelings about Zimbabwe tour: Flower
Published: Sunday, April 27, 2003, 18:28 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
'ECB is colluding in a political loyalty test'
London: Former Zimbabwe batsman Andy Flower has said he has 'mixed emotions' about the African country's forthcoming tour of England. Flower, now playing for English county Essex, announced his retirement from international cricket after this year's World Cup concluded in March. Together with black team-mate Henry Olonga, Flower staged a black-armband protest, mourning the 'death of democracy' in famine-affected Zimbabwe under President Robert Mugabe, during the team's tournament opener against Namibia. But unlike some critics of the Mugabe regime who want the tour scrapped, Flower, 35 on Monday, was less certain. "I have mixed feelings about whether this tour should take place," Flower wrote in the 'Sunday Telegraph'. "There will be demonstrations and I actually think that will be a positive thing because it will give the human rights activists a chance to highlight the problems in Zimbabwe," added Flower, who will play domestic first-class cricket in Australia for South Australia later this year. "But I do not think that sporting sanctions against Zimbabwe will necessarily work. They did during the apartheid years in South Africa because of the importance South Africans attach to sport. But the Zimbabwean leadership has its hands rather full these days, what with its own business interests and rapidly deteriorating economy - and an increasingly hungry, and therefore restless population." Flower was a mainstay of the Zimbabwe side for more than a decade as a left-handed top order batsman and wicket-keeper. From 1988 to 2003 he played 63 Tests and 213 One-day Internationals. Flower's Test haul of 4,794 runs at an average of 51.54 marked him out as one of the best players of his generation. His brother Grant, a batsman and left-arm spinner, has retained his place in the Zimbabwe side and will be a member of its tour party. But the two Test tour was placed in jeopardy when England refused to play its February 13th World Cup match against Zimbabwe in Harare, citing safety fears. This sparked concerns that Mugabe would order a retaliatory boycott of the tour, which also features a triangular One-day series involving England and South Africa. On Saturday, Peter Tatchell of the London-based Stop the Tour campaign, said his group planned to demonstrate during the two Test matches at Lord's from May from May 22 to May 26 and at Durham's Riverside ground from June 5 to June 9. Zimbabwe is due to start its tour with a match against British Universities at Edgbaston commencing on Saturday May 3.