Henry’s ready to bowl over Sunderland cricket fans

Zimbabwean bowler Henry Olanga.
Zimbabwean bowler Henry Olanga.
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CRICKETING pioneer Henry Olonga is coming to Wearside to speak about his extraordinary life.

The former Zimbabwe bowler will be in Sunderland to appear at a special lunch event next month, after being invited by members of a city church.

Olonga was famously the first black player to play for the African nation, formerly known as Rhodesia.

In 2003, along with current England coach Andy Flower, he wore a black armband to symbolise the death of democracy in his country.

The move was in protest at the policies of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.

Olonga then had to flee the country, with his life at risk.

Since retiring, he received literary acclaim for his autobiography, Blood, Sweat and Treason, which was nominated for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award in 2010.

Zambia-born Olonga is also a talented vocalist and is now pursuing a career in performing arts as well as commentating on cricket.

The 35-year-old is now bringing his after-dinner speaking to the Roker Hotel after being invited by members of the Enon Baptist Church, in Monkwearmouth.

Gordon Mackay, who is organising the event, said: “He has an engaging personality, is an excellent communicator and is well worth hearing.”

Gordon’s wife Dorothy said: “We met Henry last July and we heard him speak and sing.

“He’s a very impressive man who has a great story to tell.

“It’s going to be quite a full programme on the day.

“We’ll have a nice lunch and then Henry will talk about his life and hopefully we will hear him sing.

“He has an operatic voice that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.”

The event takes place on Sunday, January 15, with all those attending required to arrive at 12.30pm for a 1pm start

For tickets, call Gordon Mackay on 548 6360 or Jude Murray on 07717 170194, or email enonbaptistchurch@ymail.com to find out more.

Adult tickets are £8 and for children under 10 £4.50 if bought before January 8.

All are welcome to attend.

Twitter: @davidallison88