Andy Flower returns to Voorburg
In the late spring of 1990 a 22-year-old Zimbabwean named Andy Flower arrived in the Netherlands, to take up his duties as player-coach of the Voorburg club, who were just embarking on their first-ever season in the Hoofdklasse (as the top division was then called).
A wicketkeeper-batsman, Flower had first appeared on the international scene four years earlier, when he played for a ZCU President’s XI against Ireland in Harare – a match in which another young man, named Graeme Hick, hit 309. Zimbabwe were, of course, Associate members of the ICC at this time, having been admitted in 1981 shortly after the country achieved independence.
So Flower, along with Zimbabwe skipper David Houghton, who was coaching Quick Haag, played for his country in the 1990 ICC Trophy, which took place in the Netherlands, his undefeated 69 proving instrumental in his side’s victory over the hosts in the final.
The rest is, as they say, history: Zimbabwe were admitted to Test status in 1992, and Flower went on to play 63 matches at that level, making 4794 runs at 51.54 and claiming 160 victims behind the stumps, as well as 213 ODIs, which brought him 6786 runs at 35.34 and another 173 victims.
In all first-class cricket he made 16,379 runs at an average of 54.05, the highest of his 49 centuries 271 not out for Essex against Northamptonshire in 2006 – his final season.
By that time, Flower had retired from international cricket, largely as a result of his action, along with team-mate Henry Olonga, in wearing a black armband during the 2003 World Cup in protest against the human rights abuses committed by the Zimbabwean government of Robert Mugabe.
Since January 2009 he has been England Team Director, guiding them through one of the most successful periods in England’s recent history. They regained the Ashes in the 2009 home series against Australia, and went on to win the World Twenty20 championship in the Caribbean earlier this year.
There is likely to be considerable interest, therefore, in the round table discussion at Voorburg’s Westvliet ground this Wednesday, when Flower returns to the club for whom he made 1300 runs at an average of 39.39 in his two Dutch seasons in 1990-91, with 40 catches and 7 stumpings. He immediately announced his presence, making 86 against HCC in his first Hoofdklasse innings.
The visit is the initiative of Tim and Patrick de Leede, Voorburg stalwarts who were in that side and among those who benefited from Flower’s coaching. Tim, of course, went on to have a distinguished international career of his own, playing 236 times for his country.
Flower’s visit will coincide with a Twenty20 match between a team of former Dutch internationals and an Invitation XI, scheduled to start at five o'clock, followed by a buffet dinner.