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Monday, 27 May, 2002, 10:50 GMT 11:50 UK
Andy Flower Q&A
Reaching a century for Zimbabwe
Flower is one of the world's top Test batsmen
Thrasy Petropoulos

Q. As someone who is averaging 52.3 in Test cricket, it comes as a surprise that this is your first taste of county cricket. Have you never been tempted to play in this country before?

A. It's definitely something that I would have done before, given the chance.

In fact there was a chance of me playing for Glamorgan last year when Steve James, who is a big mate of mine from his days of playing for Mashonaland, approached me.

Unfortunately Zimbabwe had arranged to play against the West Indies and I was under a 12-month contract with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union.

Luckily this year there are almost no clashes. The Aussie tour to Zimbabwe would have clashed but that has been cancelled, and it is only the last three weeks of the season that I will be missing for the ICC knockout tournament in Sri Lanka.

Graham Gooch called me when we were in Sharjah before Christmas and asked me if I would be interested in playing for Essex and I said: "I'd love to".

Flower is enjoying his first taset of county cricket
Hooking a six against Surrey
Q. It's rare to find a Zimbabwean playing county cricket. Did you speak to Heath Streak (ex-Hampshire) and Paul Strang ex-Kent, Notts) about what to expect?

A. Yes, I have spoken to them, not so much before coming to Essex but at various times in the past. It was interesting. Both had mixed feelings about the experience.

I know Streaky found it quite a hard workload as a bowler and Heath said that he wishes that he had another chance with a county because he feels that he would be a better pro now.

He was only 20 or 21 at the time and still had a lot to learn.

Q. And what about you: how have you found the workload?

A. Quite hectic. Last week we played all four competitions. Luckily we won everything, which obviously helps with the enjoyment factor. But I think there is an incredible amount of cricket played.

In a way that suits me because I enjoy playing cricket. I don't want to think negatively about the future, about becoming stale. But I wouldn't say that it's not a possibility.

Flower has been keeping in the absence of injured James Foster
Hoping for an edge from Yorkshire's Darren Lehmann
Q. This must be a complete culture shock after playing first-class cricket in Zimbabwe for Mashonaland. Can you compare the two?

A. You can say that again. I know the crowds here are a joke for some people but in first-class cricket back home is almost like a longer version of league cricket.

There is such a small population of cricketers that everyone knows everyone else very well. I don't think the standard is very high at the moment. Actually, it's never been that high.

Obviously the media coverage is much greater here and the results are keenly watched, which isn't the case over there.

Q. And I suppose that for a Zimbabwean, earning pounds at the moment is like being paid in gold dust?

A. It certainly is. Considering the situation in Zimbabwe any foreign currency income is very worthwhile - if you take it back that is.

Q. The flip-side is that you have to put up with the weather here. At the moment you've got a streaming cold and when I came to find you you were fast asleep at the back of the dressing-room. After Africa, doesn't it bother you?

A. No, I like it here. In fact, I could live here. My wife is English, born in Yorkshire but brought up in the Midlands.

And I've played a lot of league cricket here - in Manchester, Birmingham and in Wales. It's a good place.

See also:

19 May 02 | Counties
18 May 02 | Counties
02 May 02 | Counties
19 Nov 01 | Essex
Links to more Counties stories are at the foot of the page.

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