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Andy Flower in no hurry to return home

Adelaide: Zimbabwe’s leading run scorer Andy Flower, who arrived in Australia on Thursday to play state cricket, has hit out against an alleged ‘quota’ system for black players in the current Zimbabwe team.

He said this issue has been a “bone of contention” within the team, adding that it was unlikely that he would be returning to his homeland any time soon.

Flower joined teammate Olonga in wearing black armbands to “mourn the death of democracy” in Zimbabwe during the World Cup in southern Africa earlier this year.

The former captain, who scored 4,794 runs at 51.54 in 63 Tests, said: “I don’t think it would be the smartest thing for either of us (he and Henry Olonga) to go back at the moment.

“There was no chance really to go back to Zimbabwe and there won’t be for a while,” Flower, 35, told reporters in Adelaide where he will play for South Australia this season.

Zimbabwean players and officials have denied this quota within the team in the current first Test in Perth. The issue was raised by Flower’s former teammate, batsman Murray Goodwin, who said black cricketers got a “free ride” into the Zimbabwe team.

“I haven’t been involved in the Zimbabwe set-up for a while, but the ‘quota’ has certainly been an issue,” said Flower.

He said wicketkeeper and vice-captain Tatenda Taibu, and fast bowler Douglas Hondo, who missed the bus through injury, deserved their positions. “The guys that are there at the moment are (good enough),” he said.

“Zimbabwe are a very young side, the sooner those guys get in there and face up to stiff competition, the better.”

Flower signed a new two-year contract with English county Essex last month as an overseas-qualified player.

5-yr visa for Olonga

Meanwhile, a report from London said Olonga was granted a five-year visa to remain in Britain, where he has spent the last six months on a work permit, playing club cricket and doing TV commentary (as reported in our Late City edition on Thursday).

“I’m not sure if and when I’ll return to Zimbabwe,” Olonga told the BBC’s web site. “If the current regime stays in power, then I’ve got no chance. If things were to change, it may well be that I won’t stay here all that time — but I will plan my life as if I’m going to be here for those five years.”

Olonga is due to undergo knee surgery later this month and wasn’t sure if he would play first-class cricket. (Agencies)

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