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Last Updated:  Sunday, 16 March, 2003, 15:08 GMT
Olonga leaves his mark
Henry Olonga celebrates his dismissal of Kenya's Kennedy Otieno
Olonga celebrates his final wicket
Henry Olonga may have played just two matches, but he made as much of an impact on the 2003 World Cup as anyone.

Olonga and Zimbabwe team-mate Andy Flower's protest at President Robert Mugabe's political regime sent shockwaves spreading far beyond the boundary of Harare Sports Club.

And the circumstances surrounding the 26-year-old's premature retirement have ensured he will remembered more for his political stand than his modest bowling average.

Olonga became a symbol for positive change when he made his Test debut against Pakistan in 1995 as the first black player - and the youngest - to represent Zimbabwe.

And he ended his international career by taking a principled stand over the crisis that has gripped the former British colony.

Instead of reflecting on his 30 Test and 50 one-day appearances, he was reported to be in hiding for fear of reprisals if he went back to Zimbabwe.

"It's become very difficult for me to return to Zimbabwe because I feel that doing so may be dangerous," Olonga told the BBC.

"I believe that for me to continue to play under the current crisis in Zimbabwe would be to either neglect what my conscience feels or condone what's happened in Zimbabwe over the years and now."

30 caps, 68 wickets at 38.52
184 runs at 5.41
50 caps, 58 wickets at 34.08
95 runs at 7.30

Olonga's black armband protest with Flower in Zimbabwe's opening game against Namibia guaranteed him a bit-part role for the rest of the tournament.

He took his only wicket in the Super Sixes defeat by Kenya on 12 March, trapping Kennedy Otieno lbw.

Zambian-born Olonga is one of Zimbabwe cricket's characters.

His personal website keeps fans up to date on his alternative career as a singer, and even gives his views on the spread of AIDS in Africa.

But while team-mate Flower retires at the peak of his powers, Olonga struggled to fulfil his potential after breaking into the Zimbabwe side eight years ago.

He remodelled his action after being called for throwing early on, but was troubled by injuries.

It's sad that my career ends in this way but I've done the right thing
Henry Olonga

He insists, however, that he will look back on his career with pride - and no regrets.

"There are a lot of champions in that side and it's been a pleasure for me to play with guys of the calibre of Andy Flower, Grant Flower, Alistair Campbell and Guy Whittall.

"I've had many pleasant memories over the years and great satisfaction from playing this game," said Olonga.

"I've had some highs and lows but I'm really glad I've stood for what I believed was right.

"It's sad that my career may end in this way but I've done the right thing and I'll stand by it.

"If we fail as a world to do and recognise what is right then we fail ourselves and we fail our children."

Links to more Zimbabwe stories


Have Your Say on Zimbabwe
04 Jan 03 |  Have Your Say

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