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Remember the famous 1999 World Cup game between Zimbabwe and India sans Sachin Tendulkar. Zimbabwe, batting first scored at a rate of over 5 runs per over with the help of some alluring display of batting by the Flower brothers posted a target of 253 for India in 46 overs ( revised target ) . India looked like comfortably chasing the target with crucial contributions from Sadagopan Ramesh, Ajay Jadeja and Robin Singh. Last 2 overs of the game, 9 runs required of 12 balls and 3 wickets in hand. Easy, right?? Enters Henry Khaaba Olonga and bowls probably the most memorable over of his international career. Wickets of Robin Singh, Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad in one over and India lost the match by 3 runs, the first upset of the 1999 World Cup. A heart break moment for the Indian fans.
Fast forward to 2017, Henry Olonga is settled in Australia with his wife and 2 kids and is away from cricket. He had to cut short his international career with Zimbabwe in 2003 after being vocally against the then Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe and the World Cup being his last tournament in Zimbabwe colours. In one of the World Cup matches, he and teammate Andy Flower wore black armbands to “mourn the death of democracy” in Zimbabwe. Both later received life membership of MCC in 2003.
Born in Lusaka, Zambia, Henry Olonga is of mixed origins with a Kenyan father and a Zimbabwean mother. He has 4 other siblings and his brother Victor Olonga is the former captain of the Zimbabwean national rugby team. In 1995, when Olonga first played international cricket for Zimbabwe, he became the first black cricketer and also the youngest to represent Zimbabwe in international cricket. In one of his earlier interviews, he mentioned how as a kid, everybody asked him to not pursue cricket and play golf instead as there was more money and less physical strain involved. The right arm fast bowler made his debut against Pakistan in Harare. In his short international career, he played 30 Test matches taking 68 wickets with a bowling average of 38.52 and 50 One Day Internationals, taking 58 wickets at an average of 34.08.
Olonga had a short but controversial career with his other activities gaining prominence. In 2003, when Andy Flower and he decided to wear black armbands to “mourn the death of democracy”, there were warrants issued for his arrest in Zimbabwe and he had to go into hiding post the 2003 World Cup. A year later in 2004, he got married to Australian Tara Read and eventually settled down in Australia. His autobiography Blood, Sweat and Treason was released in 2010.