A golden past, sports worth knowing

Main picture, former Zimbabwe national cricket team captain, Andy Flower. Clockwise from top left former tennis star Byron Black, Zimbabwe warriors duo of Peter Ndlovu and Bruce Grobbelaar. Zimbabwe National Rugby team at the 1987 World Cup, former number one golfer Nick Price and Sports minister Kirsty Coventry. — Infographics by Paul Nyakazeya

FIFTY years ago one of Zimbabwe’s best cricketers, Andy Flower was born. He was one of the world’s best wicket-keeper for more than 10 years in the 90s and early 2000s and statistically by far the finest batsman the nation fielded and the world admired.
For the cricket gods and the sport’s religious followers, he was an epitome of extraordinary excellence and remains one of the most respected cricketers. He is a former England cricket coach a feat that speaks volumes about his playing days and how this cricket crazy nation view him.
He played for the Chevrons together with his brother Grant, Henry Olonga, Alistair Campbell, Guy Whittall, Murray Goodwin and Stuart Carlisle a fine crop of players who brought the best out of each other.
Flower’s last match for the Chevron was on February 10, 2003, during the World Cup in Harare against Namibia.
For world cup debutant Namibia it was a major story in Windhoek. But the match would make headlines for a different reason. Sports analysts expected Namibia to loss, and that they did by a considerable margin.
But the highlight of the game was an act of ‘political defiance’ by Flower and Henry Olonga who wore black armbands when they came out to play.
Now black armbands are traditionally worn by cricketers on the field when someone’s death is being mourned. The two however said they were mourning the death of democracy in Zimbabwe.
In was an open secret that both men were aware that such a move meant their careers were over for the Cheverons. Flower was retiring anyway after the tournament and Olonga would never play for the Chevrons after the World Cup ended.
Flower is still credited for paving the way for players such as Tatenda Taibu, Raymond Price, Hamilton Masakadza, Prosper Utseya, Brendon Taylor, Graeme Cremer, Craig Ervine and Elton Chigumbura.
In the same year that Andy Flower was born, The Financial Gazette newspaper was first published in April becoming the oldest business and financial newspaper in the country. It is southern Africa’s leading business newspaper well known for its in-depth and authoritative reportage anchored on providing accurate, fair and balanced news. It remains Zimbabwe’s most enduring independent newspaper.
In that same year and month, Paolo Maldini an Italian football legend was born.
He played as a left back and central defender for A C Milan and Italy national team. He spent all 25 seasons of his career in the Serie A with Milan, before retiring at the age of 41 in 2009.
He is the first and only player (for now) to have is number three soccer jersey retired by the Italian giants. Maldini told Milan they can only reinstate his retired number three shirt if one of his children plays for the club in future.
There’s been a long-running debate about when “the internet” was born, with many tech-heads citing April 7, 1969 as the web’s official birthdate. The same month The Financial Gazette was first published. That is the day the first official request for comments, was published — which included research, proposals, and ideas for the creation of true internet technology.
It is also the year the first person landed on the moon. Apollo 11 began its historic voyage to the moon on July 16, 1969.
It reached its destination on July 20 and on July 21, Neil Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface, with Buzz Aldrin following him about 20 minutes later.
The mission marked the beginning of the US putting a dozen men on the moon as The Financial Gazette’s reach spread in Zimbabwe.
Despite being an authority in business and finance over the past 50 years, The Pink paper has witnessed and covered milestones in the country’s different sports including, the Zimbabwe Hockey team — the golden girls winning gold at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, in the then Soviet Union, Nick Price being ranked the number one golfer in the wold in 1994, the Zimbabwe rugby team — the Sables’ first participated at the world cup in 1987 which was co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia.
The pink paper also celebrated the success of Byron, Cara and Wayne Black on the tennis court and the success of Peter Ndlovu the longest serving African footballer in the English Premier league from 1991-2004.
During these 13 years he played for Coventry City, Birmingham City, Huddersfield Town and Sheffield United.
The paper also covered Bruce Grobbelaar’s colourful career in England from 1981-1994 turning out for Liverpool for over a decade and then Southampton and minister of Sports, Kirsty Coventry winning gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. At the tournament, Coventry won three medals, including a gold medal in the 200 meter backstroke.

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