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Price paid to stand up to Mugabe, don’t miss cricket much: Henry Olonga | Cricket News

ADELAIDE: A black tweed coat, wool hat, glasses and leather bag in hand, former Zimbabwe pacesetter Henry Olonga walked the Adelaide Oval looks like a professor teaching at the University of Adelaide across the river Torrens.
On a day when Zimbabwe lost to the Netherlands in the T20 World Cup, Olonga spoke about what the national team is doing, even though he lives a life far away from the cricket pitch that once gave him name and fame.
Olonga wasn’t a great cricketer, not even Zimbabwe’s best during the country’s golden age of cricket, but the beaded hair, a pendulum swing and a vicious bounce to get Sachin Tendulkar onto a lifeless Sharjah job made him a understanding in India.
Not to mention his five-for on Grace Road against India in the 1999 World Cup.
“I’m a singer now. There’s a lot of music in my life. I did a few shows last Friday. My first solo performance without our band. It was just me and the audience,” Olonga told PTI, sitting in a Adelaide coffee shop.
“After cricket I did a lot of things, I played a few matches for Lashings XI together with the great Sachin Tendulkar. VVS Laxman also played. Life was 15 years ago.
He and his family are happily settled in one of Australia’s quietest cities, Adelaide.
“Life then took me a bit in different directions. I have two daughters, the eldest will be 12 soon and the youngest will be 10. My wife is an Australian citizen and I have also applied for Australian citizenship. I hope to get it soon.
“And once I qualify, you never know, you might see me on the track. Javelin throw,” he said, laughing out loud as a reference to his swinging action that got him called to throw during his debut Test series in Pakistan back in 1995.
Olonga’s lasting memory in a Zimbabwean jersey was the 2003 World Cup when he and Andy Flower wore black armbands at one of the games in protest against Robert Mugabe-led government policies and “mourned the death of democracy in the country”.
Olonga opposed the Mugabe government’s decision to confiscate farmland from white communities.
In fact, Olonga’s protest at the time was criticized by former Zimbabwe Information Minister Jonathan Mayo, who called him “Uncle Tom with black skin and white mask”.
It was a reference to the most iconic literary character ‘Uncle Tom’ from the novel ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ written by Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1852.
“I had to leave everything I built for myself and my family in Zimbabwe. But that’s the price you pay to stand up to a dictator like Robert Mugabe,” he said, still feeling the same about Mugabe .
“The consequences of my protest were that I received death threats and had to leave Zimbabwe. I don’t look back too much on my life in Zimbabwe. I look back on my new life,” said Olonga, recalling the time when the then government left him. accused of treason.
He had been in exile in England for nearly ten years before moving to Australia with his wife Tara and their two young children.
There are scars from leaving his own country, but Australia has given him so much to look forward to.
“I have several ventures of my own. I do a lot of music and I also like art. I speak in public (after dinner) and make my music videos.
“Maybe a little acting. That keeps me pretty busy at the moment, but to be honest I don’t look back much. It makes no sense to linger in times gone by,” said the fan of American singer and lyricist Josh Groban.
Olonga believes his beaded hair and colorful clothes made him a pack, and Tendulkar’s dismissal in Sharjah only added to the intrigue.
“I was a colorful player. I had funny hair (with beads) and I still have funny hair now. I played with passion. I wasn’t the most accurate bowler. I think I could be effective on my day and that’s why people remember me.
“I remember some of my cricket playing days. There was a good day when I bounced Tendulkar out and there was a bad day when he dominated me in the final (tri-series in Sharjah 1998). What I enjoyed was the competitive spirit of cricket.”
Olonga played 80 international matches for Zimbabwe, including 30 Tests (68 wickets) and 50 ODIs (58 wickets). Nothing special and he doesn’t even make high claims about his cricket career.
“International cricket has always been very difficult. Certain aspects are very rewarding. When you won it was great. We had a good team – Heath Streak, Flower Brothers, Neil Johnson, Murray Goodwin, Paul Strang, Guy Whittal, but if I honestly, even then we didn’t win much.
“You’re talking about playing rough with smooth. There was a lot of rough playing for Zimbabwe, we weren’t paid that well. They were a fantastic team and we were one of the best field units, we believed, at several World Cups, comparable to what this team does.”
During the time he played for Zimbabwe, it was very difficult to win matches, let alone tournaments.
“We played in a fantastic era where Australia was the best team, there was a very good Indian team and Pakistanis were also a great side – Wasim and Waqar, Saeed Anwar, Inzamam, it was hard to go on and a tournament against this players to win. kind of sides.”
Olonga sometimes thinks about how much cricket has gained commercially over the past 15 years with the arrival of T20 and the kind of opportunities former players have to make their way to the bench.
“Seeing what’s happening nearby gives me food for thought. As much emotion and nostalgia goes with an event like this. I’ve never regretted ‘Oh, I wish I had played in this era’, but I do like the spectacle, it has the buzz and the passion,” he signed off.

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