Bengaluru, May 22: Cricket becoming a family affair is not something new in history. In India, too, we have seen brothers playing together in the national side in the recent past.
However, no one has though has matched the feat of Zimbabwe in this regard as the African nation saw as many as three pairs of brothers and one pair of cousins representing it in an international match! Yes, it was a reality in 1997 when the Zimbabweans had taken on New Zealand at home.
The two Tests and the first two ODIs played in that New Zealand tour of Zimbabwe had witnessed the hosts playing a number of brother pairs in the longer format and the cousin pair in the limited-over games.
The third ODI match played in Harare on October 5, however, saw all the three pairs of brothers and the cousin pair playing together, creating a record.
Led by Alistair Campbell, the Zimbabwe XI featured only three players who did not have a family link and they were David Houghton and Craig Evans besides the skipper himself. The three pair of brothers who took the field were Andy Flower and Grant Flower; Gavin Rennie and John Rennie and Paul Strang and Bryan Strang. The cousin pair were Guy Whittall and Andy Whittall.
These brothers were diverse in their skills. While Andy was a wicket-keeper-batsman, Grant was an opening batsman who bowled slow left-arm spinners. Gavin Rennie was a batsman while the bespectacled John was a medium pacer. Paul Strang was a leg-spinner while Bryan was a left-arm medium pacer. Guy Whittall was a batting all-rounder while Andy was an off-spinner.
Zimbabwe were 1-0 up going into that unique game as they had won the second match by three wickets after the first ended in a tie. However, the 'family' team could not secure a series win as Zimbabwe fumbled in the third match, losing by 83 runs.
Kiwis captain Stephen Fleming won the toss and elected to bat first and with opener Chris Cairns top scoring with 71 and Fleming and Craig McMillan chipping in with a couple of fifties, the visitors scored 294 for seven in 50 overs. Bryan Strang took three for 66. The Flower brothers opened for Zimbabwe and put on 63 and then Guy Whittall scored 49. But a lacklustre batting thereafter saw Zimbabwe getting bowled out for 211 in the 45th over. Daniel Vettori picked threefor 41 while four Zimbabweans got run out. Cairns won the man-of-the match award as the series ended 1-1.