Fragrance of success

The Flower brothers, Andy and Grant, are different in their approach to the game, but share one thing in common — a desire to make Zimbabwe a strong cricketing power.

International cricket is all the more richer having talented players like Andy Flower (left) and Grant Flower.   -  V. V. Krishnan

Andy bats left-handed and bowls right-handed. Grant bats right-handed and bowls left-handed. Andy is the elder of the two, and both love cricket. The Flower brothers come from a cricketing family. Four brothers and a sister, they all have one thing common — love for sports. Father Bill is a coach with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union and obviously has been the biggest influence of Andy and Grant.

Andy Flower is a versatile character. He bats and keeps wickets for Zimbabwe but also took to bowling when he went to play in the Lancashire league as a professional. His first wicket, bowling seamers, was Atula Samarasekhara, the Sri Lankan batsman. “As a ’keeper, I learnt a few tricks with the ball,” Andy smiled.

Andy and Grant have been great companions. They progressed together but the elder brother seemed to have an edge with his easy going nature. Andy is a good golfer and a squash player too.

The brothers play percentage shots. Grant Flower is a tenacious character and applies himself more than his brother. Andy has a different nature. “Let’s take a chance” he would say and would not mind playing the risky shots.

Grant is the phlegmatic type, prepared to consider the coaching lessons from his father. He has the strength of character to disagree without offending. Andy is his own ’keeper, sort of leader through his strong individual thought and discipline. To keep a strong mind and body, he watches the Jahangir Khan cassette every day.

The brothers are the brightest prospects in their country and both are contracted professionals with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union. Andy, 24, got his breaks quicker. Grant has not remained far behind.

Maybe not as famous as the Chappell brothers, the Hadlee brothers, the Mohammad brothers and the Amarnath brothers, the Flower brothers are hot property in Harare. They should have played in the last World Cup but for Grant breaking his arm a couple of weeks before the competition.

Andy did a splendid job in the World Cup match against Sri Lanka, hammering a century. A pity Zimbabwe failed to win the match. He does a lot of reading and appears a deep thinker of the game. He followed the instructions from coach John Hampshire and came up with a valuable 59 in the Test against India. He went about it over by over and session by session which was a reflection of his willingness to do well on the field.

Andy loves reading. Grant hates it. That could be the only difference in their habits. They have a good understanding between themselves and their running between the wickets could leave the fielding side frustrated.

“Ball sense came for them from the cradles. If all the fathers took the trouble and kicked the ball around with their kids every evening, athleticism would follow naturally. It wouldn’t be left just to the coach or the school teacher,” said Bill. He has been the guiding spirit for Andy and Grant ever since they learnt to hold the bat.

The best thing about Andy and Grant is that they always listen and try to follow good advice. Both are soft-spoken and humble cricketers on the field. “Never have they questioned the umpires decision,” Bill said of his sons.

Both played their early cricket in South Africa as schoolkids and took cricket seriously about five years back. Both won scholarships from the ZCLJ to play overseas and coach at home. Houghton has been a big influence for both the brothers. “We have learnt quite a lot by watching him. He is a world class batsman and is always willing to teach us a few things,” said Grant, who also played as a back in the Zimbabwe school hockey team on a couple of overseas tours.

Having launched themselves firmly, Andy and Grant were looking forward to achieve good results in international cricket. They have no regrets choosing cricket for a career. When Bill congratulated his sons on the eve of Zimbabwe’s first ever Test, both responded “we haven’t done anything yet.”

They have plenty of years ahead of them to prove their prowess. International cricket is all the more richer having talented players like Andy Flower and Grant Flower.

This article was published in The Sportstar of November 14, 1992