March 11, 2003

I'm quitting, no regrets, says Andy Flower

Julian Guyer

BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa, March 11 AFP - Zimbabwe batsman Andy Flower says he will retire from international cricket as soon as his team's World Cup campaign comes to an end.

And he insisted that he has no regrets about the black armband protest he staged, along with teammate Henry Olonga, to register his anger at the deteriorating conditions in his strife-torn country.

"I have no regrets about what I have done at this tournament," said the 34-year-old batsman.

"The only thing I regret is getting run out when I had made 37 in the last match against New Zealand."

That incident contributed to his team's six-wicket defeat which has meant tonight's Super Six clash with Kenya at Goodyear Park here has become a must-win situation if Zimbabwe are to have any hope of reaching the semi-finals.

Flower, who has come under intense pressure to abandon his anti-Robert Mugabe protest, has been linked with South Australia.

But SA Cricket Association (SACA) communications manager Jane Elliott said today no deal had been done and refused to comment further on the possibility of Flower playing for SA.

"We can't talk about any possibilities until it's actually done," Elliott told AAP.

"As soon as we have any contract news we will announce it."

Flower has said he would once again play for Essex in the English county championship later this year

Furthermore, he revealed that wife Rebecca, children, Jamie, four, Sam, two and one-month-old Danielle had already left for England.

"I always find it strange when people say they have no regrets about what they have done in the last 20 years," said Flower.

"I have made mistakes both on and off the field but I have kept learning."

Flower, whose brother Grant also plays in the Zimbabwe World Cup team, had been threatened with being dropped from the squad if he did not give up on his protest which bitterly attacked the Mugabe regime.

He refused and his place was secured when other senior players said they would not take the field if their star batsman was axed.

Olonga, who hasn't played since the first match against Namibia, has already been sacked by his domestic club for his part in the protest.

Despite his anger with the authorities in Zimbabwe, Flower is adamant that he hasn't given up hope of his team making it to the semi-finals and is confident of wins in the next two matches - against Kenya and against Sri Lanka in East London on Saturday.

"We have been lucky to have got as far as we have but we need to win the next two games," he said.

"We can make the semi-finals. We can beat Kenya and Sri Lanka are not at the top of their game at the moment.

"I don't want to leave the World Cup just yet."