Zimbabwe news August 16, 2010

Olonga asks for renewal of ties with Zimbabwe

Cricinfo staff

Henry Olonga, the former Zimabwe fast bowler who famously protested against the Mugabe regime during the 2003 World Cup, has called for renewed cricketing ties with his country ahead of proposed visits by the Scotland and Ireland teams.

Olonga moved to London after a black arm-band protest during the World Cup along with team-mate Andy Flower opposing the 'death of democracy' in Zimbabwe. While he ruled out the possibility of returning to his homeland, he noted that the ground situation in Zimbabwe was on the mend.

"Personal safety is still a consideration for me, although the Zimbabwean government seems to be softening. The winds of change are blowing through the country. Maybe it's time now to consider bringing Zimbabwe out of isolation from a broader perspective," Olonga told the Scotsman.

Olonga however maintained his scepticism over the officials running cricket in the country, namely ZC chairman Peter Chingoka and managing director Ozias Bvute. "We still have the issue of slightly suspicious gentlemen running the sport. I don't really trust the man [Bvute] but he's shown a genuine desire to re-engage with some of the former players.

"They have extended the olive branch to players like Heath Streak and a few others, to try to get some of these players back involved in the running of cricket because their loss has cost the country," Olonga said.

Zimbabwe's minister of culture David Coltart was set to meet the Scotland cricket officials following speculation that they were concerned about sending their side to Zimbabwe for the Intercontinental Cup fixture in October.

"I have to go and speak to Scottish cricket authorities, and one of the main things they want to do is have me speak to the players because they are nervous about going out. They've seen pictures. One has to recognise that there is a lot of scepticism in the UK regarding this political arrangement. My main task is to try to overcome that scepticism. I can't disregard it because in some respects it's well founded," Coltart said.