From Castle Corner to Castle Hill, Zimbabwe cricketers experience generational journey | Cricket News

TOWNSVILLE (Australia): Just a few feet shy of being classified a mountain, Castle Hill towers over the city of Townsville and on Saturday it will serve as the backdrop for a sporting event which has had North Queensland buzzing for a week.
Australia are playing their first ever international series in the region but it is not the one-day cricket that is so exciting locals and packing out the city hotels.
Zimbabwe, perpetual minnows of the game, have waited 18 long years to travel Down Under and face the might of Australia, and now, finally given the chance, they are being overshadowed by a rugby league match.
The hometown North Queensland Cowboys play the reigning champion Penrith Panthers on Saturday night in a sold-out National Rugby League clash and in this part of Queensland, that cannot be topped.
The Zimbabweans are well used to playing second fiddle on their travels, however, and nothing was going to dampen their mood on a tour that is a realisation of many years of hard work through sporting, economic and political adversity.
“It’s something that as a little boy I always dreamed about,” batsman Sean Williams, who made his international debut as a teenager in 2005, told Reuters.
“It’s an amazing challenge, and a journey of growth.”
Sitting on the boundary of the quaint Riverway Stadium and admiring the immaculate outfield, captain Regis Chakabva, who debuted in 2008, shared similar sentiments.
“For me personally, this is probably the highlight of my career up to this point. Playing Australia in Australia is such a big thing,” the 34-year-old told Reuters.
“I think it’s quite special for the local people in this part of Australia that have probably been looking for good quality cricket. For them to have Australia coming into their region and playing here, it’s huge for them.
“And for us there’s absolutely no issue.”
Most of the locals attending the series in the outskirts of the city are Townsville born-and-bred, but there was one vocal minority congregating near the Zimbabwe dugout, singing and chanting in support of the tourists.
For Chakabva, it was a reminder of the most passionate supporters who occupy the southern grandstands at his home ground, Harare Sports Club.
“Quite a resemblance isn’t it? I suppose we could name that Castle Corner for us,” he grinned. “It’s brilliant, it does seem like there’s not a place where you go in the world where you won’t find a Zimbabwean.”
On the face of it there has been precious little to celebrate with Zimbabwe 2-0 down in the three-match series and facing a sweep after Saturday’s final match.
The dozen-strong, impromptu Castle Corner mob is more than just a cheer squad, though. It is also a place of business and networking.
One savvy traveller brought a collection of replica team shirts with him from Zimbabwe, selling them out of his car at a mark-up price reflecting their scarcity outside his homeland.
Another, an expatriate who flew in from Brisbane, proudly talked about his grassroots cricket organisation helping Zimbabwean children, of which batsman Williams is an ambassador.
“(It’s about) taking cricket to places where there is no cricket and giving those children an opportunity to play the game,” Williams, 35, said.
“It’s a life changing thing if one or two of those kids are able to come through the system.”
The hope is that one day, one of those children might represent the proud but often troubled African nation and fulfil a lifelong dream on Australian soil.

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