As his sixth, and final, season for Essex draws to a close Grant Flower has the chance to bow out on a high in the Clydesdale Bank 40 competition. Essex will go into the tournament semi-final as clear underdogs against an intimidating Somerset line-up that includes the likes of Marcus Trescothick, Craig Kieswetter, Peter Trego and Jos Buttler, and Flower, who has played 195 games for the county since arriving in 2005, is realistic about his team's chances. "It will be very tough to overcome them," he said. "But if we get to Lord's it would be a great way to end."
Essex have sunk without a trace in the County Championship but have fared far better in the domestic one-day tournaments this season. Flower has been key to that success and has been by some distance their leading runscorer, averaging 69.71 with two centuries. His unbeaten 81 against Middlesex in his final home game at Chelmsford sealed their semi-final spot and left Essex fans - some of whom had booed Flowers arrival under the controversial Kolpak ruling - cheering the veteran batsman from the field.
"I think over the years I have shown my commitment to the county and to the country," Flower told the Gazette. "I could understand it [the booing] and the Kolpak thing was controversial and I was taking an English person's spot in the side.
"But I think good performances and the commitment I have show has helped a great deal. I'm quite emotional about the send off I got, I'm not the sort of person that likes a big fuss, but six years is a long time."
Flower will be returning to Zimbabwe at the end of the season and though there have been several positive developments in the country's cricket infrastructure recently he describes his decision to take up a position as the national side's batting coach as "a huge risk".
"You never know what is going to happen in Africa and what the situation will be like and whether or not the contract you sign actually means what it's supposed to, the organisation isn't very good.
"I was offered the role of second team coach here at Essex and you know that's a solid job, so going back to Africa is a huge risk, but you have to do that in life, it's a wrench to leave because I have some great friends here at Essex so there are obviously pros and cons."