Flower slams Streak over Zimbabwe return

Published: Friday, April 15, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Former Zimbabwe batsman Andy Flower has criticised the return to international cricket of Heath Streak, on the grounds that nothing had changed since he led a group of rebel players against the country's cricket authorities.

"That Heath Streak led them into it and is now back playing is poor form. There have not been the wholesale changes they were demanding but they want to go back," Flower told the May edition of the Wisden Cricketer Magazine.

Flower, whose younger brother Grant has joined him at English county Essex, added: "I don't know what the reasons are.

"But you don't make a big stand then, when nothing changes, go back and say: 'Actually, I do want a contract.' Now there are half a dozen or so young white players out of a job."

Streak spent nearly a year out of international cricket after being sacked as captain having alleged racial bias in selection by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union. His dismissal led to a total of 15 white players quitting the African minnows.

But last month the fast bowler returned to the team.

Another of the rebels who joined Streak was Grant Flower but Andy Flower said he was always against the move that effectively ended his brother's international career.

"I told him he would not win that battle. He'd either not play any more international cricket or be in a protracted battle in court. There wouldn't be any winners."

Last month Zimbabwe became only the fourth side since the end of World War II to lose a Test match inside two days, in an innings and 21 run defeat by South Africa in Cape Town.

And even with the return of former rebels like Streak and Andy Blignaut, Flower said he could not see how morale could be restored.

"I find it very surprising that they can return after the relationship breakdowns during that year-long struggle. I don't know what the relationship between the rebels and other players is. It has to be awkward.

"How do you build harmony out of a situation like that?," added Flower who could yet come across Streak, playing for county champions Warwickshire, during the course of the English season.

Zimbabwe's record Test scorer with 4,794 runs at 51.54 including 12 hundreds from 63 matches, Flower, 37 later this month, said he'd no intention of ending his international retirement.

He has not been to Zimbabwe since the World Cup where his black armband gesture, along with black fast bowler Henry Olonga made headlines worldwide.

And he said he was still uncertain when he'd return.

"The last time I was there was in the World Cup in 2003. I'd love to go and see my friends. But I just don't think it is a thing I can do at the moment. It is possible that it would be dangerous."

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