Grant Flower to make international comeback

Harare (Zimbabwe): Grant Flower will revive his international career at the age of 39 for Zimbabwe`s tour of South Africa next month.

Flower, the younger brother of England team director Andy, said today that he will play for his country for the first time since his international career was cut short in 2004 by a dispute between Zimbabwe`s players and its cricket board.

Flower played for English county Essex for the last six years, but returned to his home country to take up a job as the national team batting coach this month.

He admitted that, as batting coach, he will be under pressure to perform, in the Twenty20s and one-day internationals.

"There can be a conflict of interests with my role as the batting coach if I can`t turn things around as a player," Flower said. "It can be awkward if I don`t. If it works, however, it can come out in positive fashion.”

"It (international cricket) is a different pressure. I just had a good season with Essex, playing some of my best one-day cricket with them, but international cricket is a step up."

The right-handed batsman and part-time spin bowler played 67 Tests and 219 one-dayers for Zimbabwe and made his debut in the country`s first ever Test -- a draw with India in Harare in 1992.

He left to join Essex in 2004 after announcing his international retirement following the dispute that resulted in an exodus of Zimbabwe`s best players and the country`s withdrawal from Tests.

With cricket in the politically troubled southern African country slowly recovering, officials have expressed their desire to have Flower play a leading role in the team when it returns to Test cricket in a home series against Bangladesh next May.

"I don`t see that happening," he said. "It`s time for the younger guys to come through. I had my time in test cricket, it`s time for the youth to show their skills. (But) anything can happen if I do well in South Africa. You never know."

A good tour could also make Flower available for the World Cup in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in five months.

Flower, who will be 40 when the tournament begins on February 19, did not rule out the possibility.

Bureau Report

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