Grant Flower hopes Zimbabwe cricket will flourish after Robert Mugabe’s exit
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Grant Flower hopes Zimbabwe cricket will flourish after Robert Mugabe’s exit

Grant Flower, former Zimbabwe cricket team all-rounder, is optimistic that Robert Mugabe’s resignation as the country’s President will bring positive changes in the cricketing setup.

cricket Updated: Nov 25, 2017 14:17 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Grant Flower,Zimbabwe cricket,Robert Mugabe
Grant Flower played 67 Tests and 221 ODIs for Zimbabwe. (Twitter )

After 37 years of being the face of Zimbabwe, former President Robert Mugabe’s decision to step down from the post is perhaps as historic as the manner in which he came to power, securing the country’s independence back in 1980.

Like changes in political situations across the world offer a bit of promise for its citizens, Zimbabwe is in such a state as well. And former cricketer Grant Flower is optimistic that the change will affect the current cricketing setup that’s there in the country.

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Mugabe was forced to resign after lawmakers started an impeachment process against him. He was expelled from his party this Sunday but had still refused to give up on his power. Known for having made the controversial remark of ‘only God will remove me’, Mugabe had to make way after the military took him into custody and put him under house arrest.

Such was the bitterness around the 93-year-old that lawmakers of both ZANU-PF and their main opposition, Movement for Democratic Change, could be seen hugging each other and shaking hands as Mugabe’s resignation letter was being read out.

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Once a formidable side with the likes of the Flower brothers (Grant and Andy) Henry Olonga and Heath Streak, Zimbabwe has had a drastic dip and fallen down the pecking order over the past few years. They currently sit 10th on the ICC Test and ODI rankings and in a dismal 12th in the T20 rankings.

“One of the things that could happen is some people might come back here. Maybe some families and younger players who have tried to go overseas, to either SA or England and Australia, they might come back. There might be a bit of talent coming back into the country. If that does happen that can only be a good thing,” Flower was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.

Talent is indeed something that the country requires in abundance. While the current lot does have a few names to fall back on, none is of the class that the Flower brothers delivered. Mugabe was also the country’s cricket’s chief patron. And although he played a minimal role, Flower, was vividly excited. “Just from a general perspective, there’s a huge sense of euphoria,” he went on to add. “Obviously not everything’s going to go back to how it was [prior to 2003], but it’s a great start.”

Zimbabwe have failed to earn a direct qualification for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup and has to win a spot through the qualifiers, which would be hosted in the country next year. For Flower, however, more than the pride at stake, what concerns him more is the amount of money involved in participating in a World Cup. Zimbabwe are one of the poorest cricket associations beside West Indies to have been part of the World Cup fold.

“Hopefully the home ground advantage will count, but there’s a lot of pressure, especially on the few guys that have come back for big cash,” Flower added. “Zimbabwe are under pressure to win the qualifiers to get through to the World Cup, because if they don’t, they lose all that money for competing in the World Cup. That’s being a huge setback for Zimbabwe Cricket.”

First Published: Nov 25, 2017 14:14 IST