London: Appreciating Henry Olonga’s “courageous decision” to sport black armbands during the World Cup as a protest against Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, a British businessman has offered to sponsor the paceman to play in a county.
Sussex businessman Lawrence Mallison has stated that he was prepared to spend about £30,000 for sponsoring Olonga as an overseas cricketer for Essex or any other county if the Zimbabwe Cricket Union continues to keep him on the sidelines.
“I think it is important that Henry should not be abandoned after the World Cup is over,” Mallison said, adding that his business “can at least afford to give him a well-deserved foot-up. Getting him over here might also help him make contacts that could lead on to something else.”
Though Essex liked the idea, they have doubts over offering a contract to Olonga as their two overseas players — one being Zimbabwe veteran Andy Flower — are expected to be available for the whole season.
Olonga, who created a stir by wearing the armband during the initial stage of the tournament along with Andy, reacted positively to news.
“I would be very interested and certainly open to the id- ea,” he was quoted as saying Friday.
“With all my problems with form and injury over the years, I’d always shied away from the idea of county cricket. But in the last six months, I’ve had only one niggle and have been bowling consistently and with good pace,” said Olonga.
Zimbabwe take on New Zealand in a Super Six match Saturday. Olonga has not been included in the XI after the first match against Namibia on February 10. He has also lost his club contract in Zimbabwe.
“Music is my potential other career, but I wouldn’t know whether I would make it. I want to keep going with what I know I can do, which is play cricket.”