Overseas Heroes: Grant Flower

GF COVER 

Born in Harare in December 1970, Grant had amassed 3,457 runs For Zimbabwe at an average of 29.54 and took 25 wickets by the time he decided to quit the international stage after playing 67 Test matches.

The talented all-round cricketer joined Essex in 2005 under the kolpak arrangement and stayed until the end of the 2010 campaign when he left to take up a position as Batting Coach with Zimbabwe.

A right-hand batsman, a handy slow left-arm bowler and one of the finest fielders in the game, his arrival at Chelmsford allowed him to link up with older brother Andy with whom he had played for his native country with the pair proving the mainstays of the Zimbabwe batting.

Both worked hard on their fitness, a quality that was in evidence throughout their career, with Grant saying: “When we were younger, we figured that if we were fitter than the guys we played against, we’d have an advantage.

“Later on, we thought we should set an example to our teammates, and we always tried to work a bit harder than the rest.”

Flower Power was in evidence on several occasions when the brothers represented Essex. During his first season, he joined Andy in setting a new record for the County when they became the only brothers to score centuries in the same match. Playing against Lancashire at Old Trafford in July 2005, Andy scored 138 and Grant 115 and the pair put on 106 for the fourth wicket before Essex declared on 506-9 in the drawn match.

A model professional, he enjoyed a superb career but it was as a highly-effective one-day player that he shone for Essex, illustrated by his significant returns of 466 runs at 46.60 and 17 wickets at 16.64 as Essex carried off the totesport League title in 2005.

Flower will also be fondly remembered for two match-winning performances in the same season that really endeared him to the Essex faithful.

In the Friends Provident Trophy Final against Kent Spitfires at Lord’s in 2008, he shepherded Essex home with five wickets and seven balls to spare posting an unbeaten 70 that won him the Man of the Match Award. Attempting to protect a total of 214 all out and with the ball wobbling around and seamers thriving, opposing skipper Rob Key’s 7-2 bold attacking field settings had reduced Essex to 93-4.

Then Flower took a hand in proceedings. He was ice-cool making a challenge that increased to a run-a-ball appear straightforward as he gradually stole the initiative for his side.

He stroked and steered the ball around the field and with the assistance of Ryan ten Doeschate, who provided splendid and ideal support with an unbeaten 30 from 29 balls, as the pair took Essex across the finishing line with a 57-run unbroken partnership. But it was Flower’s contribution that had proved so important in setting Essex on their successful victory trail.

Kent had not seen the last of Flower though and it was another all-to-play-for encounter when the teams met in mid-September at Canterbury. Victory for Essex and the NatWest Pro40 League Division Two title and promotion would be theirs, but defeat would hand Kent first place and leave Essex the possibility of having to chase promotion via the play-offs.

Kent posted a challenging 246-5 but Flower was again the thorn in their side. He proved unflappable and resilient, scoring a stylish and unbeaten 68 from 42 balls taking command to organise the final push for the win after 39 were required from five overs with five wickets remaining. Victory was completed with an over and four wickets to spare to secure the title and promotion with the County returning to Division One of the competition after just one season in the second tier.

Flower also enjoyed a productive limited-overs season in 2010 with 527 runs at 65.87 including a match-winning 81 not out against Middlesex in his final home match for the County.

In all, he scored two centuries and 11 half-centuries in 44 List A appearances for Essex, aggregating 1426 runs at 47.53 and took 26 wickets at 30.07. In T20 cricket, his 56 matches brought him 691 runs at 21.59 whist his 23 wickets came at 19.80.

He made 39 first-class appearances for the Essex and scored four centuries (with a highest score of 203 not out) and seven half-centuries amongst his 1591 runs at 28.41.

Essex Career (2005-2010):

Debut: April 13 2005, Essex v Yorkshire
Appearances: 168
Runs: 4,321
First-class average: 28.41
Highest score: 203, Essex v Northamptonshire (2007)
100s: 6
50s: 26

Please note that this feature was first published in the Winter Edition of the 2021 Members’ Magazine.