Australian ambassador Matthew Neuhaus could have announced the unofficial ending of a hostile cricket era between Zimbabwe and his country, when he officially opened the John Gardiner Mbizo Cricket facility in Kwekwe yesterday.
Neuhaus said his country was prepared to assist Zimbabwe in the rebuilding of its cricket team, dismantled by the 2004 fallout between senior players and the Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) management.
Commissioning the $15 000 facility which is largely funded by the Gardiner family through their Bomko and Lays franchise brand, Neuhaus said he would encourage Cricket Australia to assist ZC in the buildup of their team just months after the team returned to the Test playing arena after years of self imposed exile.
“We are keen to see cricket going on in Zimbabwe . . . I will be talking to Cricket Australia to ensure they support ZC structures because they have systems in place for that kind of thing,” said Neuhaus.
He told hundreds of schoolchildren who had gathered at the centre where the Kenyan Cricket team took them through a coaching clinic, that top quality facilities are not necessary to groom a good cricketer.
“Don Bradman used to practise on the streets using a stick and hitting the ball on a corrugated bin. He was later to become Australia’s greatest player. You can become a better cricketer if you have the enthusiasm,” said Neuhaus.
Although the facility is still without a club house, toilets and changing room, it is already playing a huge role in developing the sport in the high-density suburb.
MidWest Rhinos chief executive officer Kenyon Ziehl told NewsDay Sport Gardiner had since committed to fund the setting up of the club house, toilets and has even suggested sinking a borehole at the facility to improve the water situation.
“This was his first time to visit this facility and he was impressed. Gardiner has even suggested that we should sink a borehole and he will assist in the building of a club house and toilets,” said Ziehl.