Villagers bowled over by turnout for cricket star

PUBLISHED: 11:00 16 August 2015

Henry Olonga

Henry Olonga

Archant

Instead of the 64 planned for, 88 people arrived to have breakfast with Henry Olonga, the ex-Zimbabwean star, in Kilmington Village Hall.

Church officials at Kilmington were bowled over by the turnout to meet a former test cricketer.

Instead of the 64 planned for, 88 people arrived to have breakfast with Henry Olonga, the ex-Zimbabwean star, in the village hall.

Organisers had to hurriedly bring in extra rations to cope with the demand.

Introduced by the Reverend Simon Holloway, Henry gave a very entertaining talk including things about his early life, his cricketing career, the death threats after his stand against the Mugabe regime and about his strong Christian faith.

He sang the Lord’s Prayer wonderfully well with his rich tenor voice and received rapturous applause before answering several questions from the audience.

Many present bought signed copies of his book Henry Olonga – My Story before he rushed off to play cricket for Bishop Lydeard, in the Somerset League.

His visit to the village seemed to have inspired members of the Kilmington Cricket Club.

Later that day their first eleven notched up an impressive six wicket victory over Whimple who are top of the Devon League D Division.

When he made his Test debut in January 1995, Henry Olonga was the first black cricketer – and the youngest person – to play for Zimbabwe. His international career came to an end in 2003 after Olonga and teammate Andy Flower wore black armbands during an international cricket match in the 2003 Cricket World Cup to ‘mourn the death of democracy’ in Zimbabwe. Death threats forced him to live in exile in England. He is now pursuing a career as a cricket commentator and singer.

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