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Flower announces retirement
March 15, 2003
Andy Flower has announced he will retire from international cricket after Zimbabwe's Word Cup Super Six match against Sri Lanka in East London on Saturday.
The wicketkeeper-batsman's impending retirement has been an open secret for several weeks, but Zimbabwe's highest run-scorer in both Test and one-day cricket has fought shy of confirming it himself.
"Tomorrow will be my last game for Zimbabwe," Flower told Reuters at the team hotel on Friday.
"I'm not sure how emotional it will be. It's very sad that it will be my last game. Zimbabwe cricket has been a huge part of my life for the last 15 years or more. I feel sad about leaving it and leaving some of my good mates like my brother (Grant) and Alistair Campbell.
"But I suppose we all have to move on and for me and my family it's time to move on."
Flower and team mate Henry Olonga made international headlines last month when they took the field for Zimbabwe's opening World Cup match against Namibia wearing black armbands "to mourn the death of democracy" in Zimbabwe.
Flower, a wicketkeeper-batsman for most of his career before handing over the gloves to help groom Tatenda Taibu as his successor, played 63 Tests, making 4,794 runs and averaging a world-class 51.54.
He will play his 213th one-dayer on Saturday, having scored 6,748 runs at 35.32 runs a visit.
The 34-year-old left-hander said the political situation in Zimbabwe had precipitated his decision to retire from the national side.
"Yes, ideally I would have liked to have carried on playing international cricket as long as I could have played it.
"There are a number reasons why I am retiring from international cricket and moving on to play elsewhere, but the political climate in Zimbabwe has certainly been a part of that decision -- definitely."
Flower believes the future of Zimbabwean cricket is very much in the balance and is inextricably tied to the political situation.
"The future of Zimbabwean cricket is very closely linked to the future of the country. None of us know how that's going to turn out.
"I think there are parallels between the state of our country and the state of our cricket. If our leaders make some good decision or if there are positive changes in the leadership of our country there may well be a positive outcome for Zimbabwean cricket.
"If the country keeps sliding away the direction of a lot of African dictatorships and deteriorates generally, then I think our cricket might go the same way. That is a serious risk," Flower said.
Flower also confirmed that a number of his team mates would also be calling time on their international careers in the near future. Olonga, Campbell, Guy Whittall and Craig Wishart are all understood to be considering their futures as Zimbabwe cricket faces a watershed moment.
"It is a turning point," Flower said. "It's true that there are going to be others that stop playing soon. Myself and a few other of the older guys have been involved so much since there were only three professional cricketers at the World Cup in 1992.
"Now it's a multi-million dollar business. It's symptom of the changing of the times that guys like me will be moving on."
Flower confirmed that he would be taking up a contract to play with county side Essex in the forthcoming English season. He is also widely expected to appear for South Australian during the Australian summer.