Flower happy to step out of big brother's shadow
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Flower happy to step out of big brother's shadow

Grant Flower said it felt good to have stepped out of older brother Andy's shadow after making a match-winning 96 not out against England at Trent Bridge

india Updated: Jun 27, 2003 01:39 IST

Zimbabwe stalwart Grant Flower said it felt good to have stepped out of older brother Andy's shadow after making a match-winning 96 not out in the Africans' four-wicket triangular series opening win against England at Trent Bridge here on Thursday.

Zimbabwe came to England without world-class batsman Andy Flower, now at English county Essex, after his international retirement following a black armband protest against President Robert Mugabe at the World Cup.

Grant, who in partnership with 20-year-old Stuart Matsikenyeri rescued Zimbabwe from 15 for four as they chased a modest 192 for victory, admitted: "It feels very different with Andy not around. He had a lot of experience.

"There's definitely a lot more pressure on now. But it's one of those things we've got to live with and quite a few of us have been in his shadow for too long."

Zimbabwe, thrashed by an innings in both the Tests against England, also lost a one-day warm-up match against minnows Ireland earlier this month.

And they have also been dogged by anti-Mugabe protesters throughout the tour, the sort of external political pressure that most teams never have to face.

Grant, 32, said victory "meant a huge amount".

He added: "You try to put the external stuff out of your mind. You can't do it all the time but if you are going to be a professional cricketer for Zimbabwe you've got to do it."

Captain Heath Streak led a disciplined performance in the field taking two for 30 while spinners Raymond Price, Douglas Marillier and Flower stifled England's middle order.

Between them the trio's 24 overs cost just 54 runs for two wickets as England stalled after a rapid start.

"We just stuck to a simple game plan," said Streak. "We were not scared to be positive. We tried to make the batsmen take risks, tried to make them play shots they didn't want to play early in the innings.

"Our bowlers put the ball in the right areas and I thought our spinners were superb," added Streak.

And he insisted the one-day form of the team which, unlike England, reached the second phase of the World Cup, had come as no surprise to him.

"It will always be hard work for Zimbabwe in Tests. We've always been a better one-day side. We can compete. But we've got to keep learning."

Flower also paid tribute to Matsikenyeri, whose one-day international best 44, in only his fourth match at this level, helped him put on a match-turning 96 for the fifth wicket.

"Stuart played really well. He's got a bright future. He's not afraid to go for his shots."

England boycotted their World Cup match against Zimbabwe in Harare on safety grounds, a decision that many of their fans felt sealed their first round exit.

But, on this evidence, the victory that so many felt would have been England's looked far less assured.

"You can never tell," said a diplomatic Streak after his team saluted the Trent Bridge crowd with a lap of honour. "The teams are different."

Zimbabwe's next match in the triangular sees them up against South Africa at Canterbury on Sunday and Streak said: "South Africa are a good unit. They play a lot of one-day international cricket.

"There's a lot of experience with Jacques Kallis and Shaun Pollock. I rate (captain) Graeme Smith and Herschelle Gibbs at the top of the order is pretty scary."

First Published: Jun 27, 2003 01:34 IST