Henry Olanga protested by wearing a black band (Photo: Getty)
If you are crazy about cricket and fall in the category of 90’s kids, then you must remember the 2003 Cricket World Cup. This is one of the most memorable World Cup, the fans of Team India were heartbroken after going to the final. But this was not the only memory of this World Cup, there are many other stories related to it. One such story was that of Henry Olanga, who did something in a match that he became against the President of his own country and the situation got so bad that he was forced to leave his own country.
This incident happened on February 10, 2003. When Zimbabwe and Namibia competed in the Cricket World Cup. This was Namibia’s first match in a World Cup, it also lost the match due to the Duckworth-Lewis rule. But this was not the only reason for this match to remain in the headlines. This match was to be played in Zimbabwe only, because some World Cup matches were to be held here.
During this time, a political conflict was also raging in Zimbabwe, at that time Robert Mugabe was ruling Zimbabwe. First he fought for the freedom of his country, after getting independence from the British, when democracy came in Zimbabwe, Mugabe became the supreme leader, but after some time he started eliminating his opponents, that is, many thousands of people were killed. Went. Amidst this background, the World Cup was taking place in Zimbabwe and their team was also playing.
Black band on the arm and opposition to the President
Now coming back to the match, in this match held on 10 February 2023, Zimbabwean fast bowlers Henry Olanga and Andy Flower came with black bands on their arms. The intention of both was to send a message to the government of their own country, that is, Olanga-Flowers had opened a front against the government of Robert Mugabe and were trying to send a message. Henry Olanga had prepared to give this strong message about a month before the World Cup.
When he once called Andy Flower to a café in Harare and explained his entire plan, Olanga had only one aim that we are going to do something which will become history and it has become very important to raise voice. Both the players also talked about the issue that if they do something like this, then some action can also be taken on it. But both of them had prepared themselves for this.
Just before the match, Henry Olanga and Andy Flower informed the team management about their action and said that they were going to do so. The team management tried to convince them, but both of them did not agree. Zimbabwe batted first in this match, Andy Flower’s turn to bat also came and he wore a black band on his arm and batted along with him.
That famous picture of Olanga
Henry Olanga also talked about this, that Flower got a chance to express his protest but my turn did not come because I had to wait for fielding. But I had also tied a black band on my hand, so I went and stood in the balcony. There is a famous picture of Henry Olanga, in which he is standing on the balcony and has a black band tied around his hand, this is about that moment.
Well, it happened as expected. Both were warned by the Zimbabwe Cricket Board and displeasure was expressed over their action. The board asked to drop him from the playing-11 and also to drop him from the squad. Besides, there was also fear about the action being taken by the government and the outside world. After the match was over, Henry Olanga returned to his home, there was some tension but there was a smile on his face that he had finally done what he had in mind.
The same thing happened in the matches after this match, Henry Olanga was dropped citing poor form. Also, Andy Flower had to be played because he was a senior and good player of the team. Well, Olanga played only one more match after that match, later he came in front of the media and announced his retirement.
When Olanga left the country
Zimbabwe’s last match in the World Cup was against Sri Lanka, Henry Olanga told in an interview many years later that some agents had come to kill him in that match, but he did not play. After this match, Zimbabwe’s journey in this World Cup ended, when all the players of the team were going towards the bus, then Henry Olanga was stopped from boarding the bus and was told to reach the airport himself.
From there Henry Olanga somehow reached the airport and took a flight from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg. He had only one pair of clothes and with that he left the country and disappeared for a long time. Henry Olanga stayed in England for a long time, the amazing thing was that his Zimbabwean passport had expired while he was here, because he had been in Britain for 9-10 years, hence he had also got the citizenship here.