23 Jul 2010

Former cricketer says Zimbabwe should be allowed to play again

5:58 am on 23 July 2010

The former Zimbabwe fast bowler Henry Olonga believes it is time for his country to be allowed back into Test cricket.

Olonga, Zimbabwe's first black player, has been a high-profile opponent of Robert Mugabe's regime and, alongside current England coach Andy Flower, made a public show of dissent against the President when the 2003 World Cup came to Zimbabwe.

The pair famously wore black armbands to mourn the death of democracy during the tournament, an action which brought about Olonga's retirement at 26.

Olonga received death threats and was charged with treason and, after travelling with the team for a World Cup match in South Africa, he never returned to Zimbabwe.

The 34-year-old, who played 30 Tests and 50 ODIs, eventually settled in England, where he petitioned international teams not to tour his country as a stand against Mugabe's human rights record.

Zimbabwe last played a Test match in 2005 after the majority of the team's first-choice players went on strike following a dispute with the national board.

But discussions are under way to restore them to the five-day game as early as next year and Olonga believes now is the time for reintegration.