The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Players’ revolt threat saved Andy Flower the axe

Bulawayo: Andy Flower was set to be axed for Zimbabwe’s World Cup match against Australia on Monday but was reinstated after a player revolt, a source close to the team said on Tuesday.

The left-hander, one of the top batsmen in world cricket, was to be dropped for disciplinary reasons following his public denunciation of alleged human rights abuses in the strife-torn country, the source added.

But three of his teammates warned Zimbabwe coach Geoff Marsh that they would refuse to play against the world champions if Flower was omitted.

Former Australia Test batsman Marsh, who is not a member of Zimbabwe’s six-man selection panel, passed on the threat to the selectors who quickly backed down.

The selectors, according to the source, had been instructed by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) executive board to drop Flower.

A member of Zimbabwe’s selection panel, however, denied on Tuesday that Flower had ever been dropped.

“That isn’t the truth,” he told. “We picked him (Flower) in the side.”

The same selector, however, who asked not be identified, said there had been long discussions over Flower’s inclusion.

“There was a debate about including Flower and (fast bowler Henry) Olonga...(but) we did not have an instruction either way.

“We wanted to know whether there was an issue with including them. We sought clarification from the ZCU and we were told there was no problem with picking them.”

Olonga, the first black player to represent Zimbabwe, joined Andy in making a statement mourning the “death of democracy in our beloved Zimbabwe” before the team’s opening group A match against Namibia on February 10.

The pair also wore black armbands.

The ZCU confirmed that letters had been sent to both players “asking them to desist from their political protest”.

Andy said he had received two letters from the ZCU but declined to comment further.

Streak clarifies

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe skipper Heath Streak insisted that Olonga was not dropped from the playing XI because of his armband protest.

“Henry’s omission has nothing to do with his protest or politics,” said Streak. “We needed to have more depth in our batting, hence the inclusion of Andy Blignaut ahead of Olonga. It was as simple as that — nothing else.”

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