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Flower, Olonga honoured

Staff Writer/AFP

TWO former Zimbabwe international cricket players, Andy Flower and Henry Olonga, have been made life members of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in honour of their protest

this year against President Mugabe’s human rights record.

According to reports in the British media, the MCC unanimously made the decision to honour the two players for their courage in standing up to Mugabe’s regime.

In the run-up to the Cricket World Cup hosted by Zimbabwe and South Africa earlier this year, Flower and Olonga issued a strongly-worded statement condemning Mugabe’s abuse of human rights and his onslaught on democracy.

They also wore black armbands for their game against Namibia and said they were “mourning the death of democracy in Zimbabwe”.

The two retired from international cricket after the World Cup finals and moved to England. Flower joined county cricket side Essex while pace bowler Olonga signed for Lashings.

MCC president Charles Fry in a statement said both the club’s membership committee and the main committee were unanimous in honouring Andy Flower and Henry Olonga.

“They sacrificed their international careers earlier this year to take a brave and principled stand against an appalling regime,” the MCC statement says.

“MCC hopes that changes within Zimbabwe may enable both players to resume their international careers – ideally in the near future.”

Meanwhile, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has come under increasing pressure from the government to cancel next year’s England tour to Zimbabwe. A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said:

“Essentially our position has not changed. Ministers made it clear before the World Cup (in February) that they did not want an England cricket team to play in Zimbabwe and nothing has changed on the ground to alter that view.”

The government’s view has underlined opposition to next year’s tour voiced last week by Lord MacLaurin, chairman of Vodafone, which is the England team’s sponsor. MacLaurin is a former chairman of the ECB.

Responding to MacLaurin, Des Wilson, the head of the ECB’s corporate affairs committee, said that though the organisation would not be drawing hasty conclusions, it would assess all the evidence sooner rather than later.

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