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Last Updated:  Friday, 14 February, 2003, 16:30 GMT
Zimbabwe duo escape action
Andy Flower and Henry Olonga
The pair put their careers at stake

The International Cricket Council have decided not to punish Andy Flower and Henry Olonga for their black armband protest against the Zimbabwe governmment.

The pair issued a lengthy joint statement shortly before their team's match against Namibia saying they were protesting against the "death of democracy".

They also drew attention to what they described as an "abuse of human rights" by president Robert Mugabe's regime.

Olonga has been suspended by his club side, Takashinga, and the pair were reported to the ICC's World Cup technical committee by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union.

The players have blurred the lines between political issues and the sporting arena
Malcolm Speed

ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said the players had been asked to stop wearing the armbands but no further action would be taken.

"The ICC seeks, at all times, to avoid using cricket as a platform on which to advance political agendas and its very strong belief is that the players, officials and administrators within the game should refrain from doing the same.

"There are enough people outside the sport seeking to achieve political ends through cricket for their own purposes, without the sports participants contributing to this matter."

He added: "While this is a principle that the ICC does not wish to see violated, it is also the case that there is no sound basis for finding that their actions have brought the game into disrepute.

"There is no charge that could be sustained under the ICC Code of Conduct."

Flower is the finest batsman ever produced by Zimbabwe, having scored 4,794 runs in Tests and almost 6,500 in one-day internationals.

It is thought he may retire from international cricket after the World Cup to concentrate on commitments with English county side Essex.

Olonga was Zimbabwe's first black Test cricketer and took eight wickets during the 1999 World Cup to help them reach the Super Sixes phase of the competition.

He said he and Flower would discuss the situation and decide whether to stop wearing the armbands or prolong their protest.

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