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Zimbabwe want winning send-off for Andy

Marcus Prior | March 14, 2003 20:43 IST

Zimbabwe will be looking to give stalwart batsman and wicketkeeper Andy Flower a rousing send-off with a winning performance in their final World Cup match against Sri Lanka on Saturday.

Zimbabwe are bottom of the Super Six table and out of contention for the semi-finals but captain Heath Streak says that does not mean his players will lack motivation.

"There's pride to play for but it's also Andy Flower's last game for Zimbabwe so it will be a great effort and a good sending-off gift if we can win for him," Streak told a news conference on Friday.

Flower's international retirement after the World Cup has been an open secret for weeks, the left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman yet to confirm the decision publicly but understood to be waiting until his participation at the tournament is complete.


He will then join his family in England to take up a one-year contract with county side Essex and is widely anticipated to play for South Australia in the English off-season.

Flower is Zimbabwe's highest run-scorer in both Tests and one-day internationals. Streak said he would leave a very large hole in a side not blessed with an abundance of world-class talent.

"If you look at his stats, his ability and his experience a player of that quality is going to leave a huge void in any side anywhere in the world. He's been a great servant of Zimbabwe cricket and the rock in our side for a number of years.

"Everyone's always looked up to him -- he's pulled us out of a number of tough situations. He's always been the benchmark for the team. It will be a great loss for us but hopefully he's not lost to Zimbabwe cricket for good.

"We all wish him well -- I'm sure he'll carry on succeeding, as he has in Zimbabwe and for the national team."

Streak hinted that considerations beyond cricket has played a part in Flower's decision to quit.

Flower made headlines in Zimbabwe's first match of the tournament in Harare when he and team mate Henry Olonga wore black armbands to "mourn the death of democracy" in Zimbabwe.


"Unfortunately, particularly in Zimbabwe, when someone is nearing the end of their career he has to consider not only the playing and enjoyment side of things... he has also got a future and a family to consider.

"When you're a player of his quality and can get a contract to play county cricket, those are considerations he's had to take into account. It's a pity he's had to do that but no one holds anything against Andy."

Despite making it through to the Super Sixes after England forfeited their match in Harare over security concerns and the match with Pakistan was rained off in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe have had a poor World Cup, beating only the Netherlands and Namibia.

Streak admitted it had been hard to focus exclusively on cricket whilst dealing with off-the-field factors.

"It hasn't been simple. There have been issues other than cricket to consider. It's a well known fact that prior to the World Cup there was pressure on us as cricket players.

"The players tried to keep out of it but it is difficult. Hopefully things can settle down -- like everywhere else in the world, the players just want to focus on playing the game."

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Sub: Andy Flower is a gem - a man in the wrong team

Andy Flower is a man who can easily walk into any playing eleven amongst atleast half of the ten Test playing nations. He should have ...

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