Forgotten Hero - Andy Flower
Elder of the two brothers who turned out for Zimbabwe in their golden years, Andy Flower is by far the best batsman his country has ever produced. In fact it won't be unfair to say that he was the only batsman of Test quality that has ever emerged from Zimbabwe.
He was incredibly consistent for two years starting from 2000 where he averaged over 80 in Test cricket. Flower started as an opening batsman and was innately a very good player of fast bowling. He proved his ability against spin in a series against India where he scored 540 runs and got out only twice in 4 innings. He continued his form against South Africa by scoring 142 and 199 in a Test.
Having born in Cape Town in South Africa, Flower was probably the best wicket keeper batsmen of his time alongside Adam Gilchrist. His popularity among the cricketing fans was hugely affected by the fact that he represented a weaker team like Zimbabwe. Flower is also one of the very few players to have scored a century on ODI debut.
Flower is also known for being a pioneer of modern cricketing strokes like the sweep and reverse sweep. He was once called a player who is '10 years ahead of his times' by Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar. Along with players like Alastair Campbell, Neil Johnson, Heath Streak, the Flower brothers formed the core of the team that registered some famous victories against big teams in the late 90s and early 2000s.
His career came to a sad end after Flower along with his 'brave' team mate Henry Olonga wore black armbands in a match against Namibia in the 2003 World Cup against the policies of Robert Mugabe. Against what they called the 'death of democracy' in their country. Soon after the World Cup ended Flower was forced to announce his retirement.
He later joined Essex and represented them till 2006 before taking up the role of assistant coach of England. He was named as the England coach in 2009 and did a remarkable job in his role. Under his guidance, England won their first global ICC Trophy in 2009 at the ICC world T20 in 2009 and he also led England to three Ashes victory.
Andy Flower is still considered to be one of the best modern day players by cricket pundits and legends. He finished his career with very respectable figures. Flower scored 4,794 runs in 63 Tests at an average of 51.94 and picked up 151 catches and 9 stumpings. He also scored 6,786 runs from 213 ODIs at an average of 35.34 and picked up 141 catches along with 32 stumpings.
One could only imagine what all he could have achieved as a player if he wasn't forced to retire because of the political situation in his country.
He also had two stints as Zimbabwe captain and is the only Zimbabwe player in ICC's Top 100 all time Test batting rankings at number 31, putting him in the company of legends like Brian Lara (23), Sachin Tendulkar (29) and Rahul Dravid (33).