Mark Ramprakash

Mark Ramprakash

3 stars

  • Found Fame Playing For England, Middlesex & Surrey
  • MBE For His Services To Cricket In 2013

Henry Khaaba Olonga (born 3 July 1976 inLusaka,Zambia) was a cricket player for Zimbabwe. He made his international debut in a Test match against Pakistan at Harare in 1995, at age 18 years, 212 days, becoming the youngest player to represent Zimbabwe. He helped Zimbabwe to its first ever Test victory in that game. A right arm fast bowler, Olonga was the first black cricketer to play for Zimbabwe and is the second Zambian-born Test cricketer after Phil Edmonds of England.

Olonga achieved international recognition (along with team mate Andy Flower) in 2003 by wearing a black armband in a Cricket World Cup match to protest against the policies of Zimbabwe’s government, led by Robert Mugabe. He and Flower released a statement on 10 February, stating in part:

In all the circumstances, we have decided that we will each wear a black armband for the duration of the World Cup. In doing so we are mourning the death of democracy in our beloved Zimbabwe. In doing so we are making a silent plea to those responsible to stop the abuse of human rights in Zimbabwe. In doing so, we pray that our small action may help to restore sanity and dignity to our nation.

This act led to a warrant issued in Zimbabwe for Olonga’s arrest on charges of treason (which carries the death penalty in Zimbabwe) and forced him to retire from international cricket and temporarily go into hiding. He is now pursuing a career as a singer and a cricket commentator.

Olonga played 30 Test matches for Zimbabwe, taking 68 wickets with a bowling avarage of 38.52, and 50 One Day Internationals, taking 58 wickets at an average of 34.08. He holds the record for the best bowling in a one-day international by a Zimbabwean, with figures of 6/19 against England at Cape Town in 2000.

Henry is a fine role model for young cricketers, one whose cheerfulness, humility and psoitive attitude win him friends wherever he goes.