Grant Flower's comeback held up by paperwork
Grant Flower's return to international cricket at the age of 39 has encountered a temporary hitch after he was denied permission to depart for South Africa from Harare airport on Monday because of invalid travel documents.
"I've had a long day, but I think it's getting sorted out," Flower told ESPNcricinfo. "I should be on the flight to South Africa tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon. I'm either going to get a new passport, or an emergency travel document."
Flower is set to play his first match for Zimbabwe in six years during their short series of two Twenty20 internationals and three ODIs against South Africa, having agreed to combine a playing return with his primary duty as national batting coach. However, he was left behind as the squad flew into Johannesburg, because his passport is still at the Zimbabwe Consulate in London awaiting renewal.
"We are hoping to resolve the matter in the next 24 hours," Zimbabwe team manager Lovemore Banda told Reuters. "Grant Flower had to travel on a temporary document because his passport is still in the embassy in London waiting for a visa application. Those temporary documents are usually accepted all over the world, but South Africa have recently changed their rules due to all their immigration problems."
Flower is one of Zimbabwe's most experienced cricketers of all time, having played in 67 Tests and 219 one-day internationals between 1992 and 2004, when he joined an exodus of senior players following the removal of Heath Streak from the captaincy. Streak has also rejoined the Zimbabwe fold as bowling coach, as the team seeks to re-emerge from the doldrums and build towards a competitive showing in the 2011 World Cup.
"Having some experience around is vital as we make our way back into international cricket and head towards test cricket, and there's no doubt Grant still has what it takes," said Alistair Campbell, the chief selector. "We're very excited about having him back in the team. He is still as fit as a 21-year-old, and had a brilliant season for Essex in the one-day game.