| Andy Flower wears a black wristband in protest during the match against India Wednesday
Harare: Andy Flower and Henry Olonga again cocked a snook at the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU), of which President Robert Mugabe is patron, but compromised somewhat by wearing black wristbands instead of armbands. However, they didn’t issue a statement.
Olonga, of course, didn’t get much publicity — he was dropped for Wednesday’s World Cup Pool A match versus India, a decision which did raise eyebrows. Andy, who wore the wristband nearer his right forearm, couldn’t be missed.
The duo is understood to have taken legal opinion before embarking on yet another move of protest, specifically “mourning” the death of democracy in Zimbabwe. Andy’s father William, a respected coach, has also been “advising”.
For now, though, the ZCU has chosen not to react. “We’ve seen the wristbands and the chairman (Peter Chingoka) and I have had a discussion. At the same time, we need to get a feedback from others in the ZCU. Perhaps, we will have something to say Thursday,” informed managing director Vince Hogg.
Speaking to The Telegraph at the Harare Sports Club, Hogg revealed both Andy and Olonga have already been sent “letters” by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and that the ZCU was “happy” with its approach. Basically, the ICC has said the sport ought not to be used to further political ends.
The World Cup’s Event Technical Committee, however, declined to act against Andy and Olonga (after the Namibia incident) but publicly “requested” them to stop wearing black armbands. Both had vowed to continue with the armband-protest.
The Committee came into the picture after the ZCU, in a tactical move, placed the matter at its door.
As reported in these columns, the ZCU didn’t act itself as any form of disciplining would have invited even more negative publicity. Moreover, the Andy-Olonga ‘mission’ would surely have got bigger mileage.
While a black wristband isn’t quite the same as an armband, it still is a protest and the ZCU will probably have to act now. Thus far, its game plan has been to lie low till either the World Cup gets over or Zimbabwe’s challenge ends.
Incidentally, Mugabe’s presidential mansion is across the road from the Harare SC. It couldn’t be confirmed, but the move by a couple of fans to flaunt pro Andy and Olonga banners, in the first session, was quickly discouraged.