Cricket legend bats for region’s tourism recovery
CRICKETING great and dedicated family man Matthew Hayden knows the terrifying scars left behind in the wake of Cyclone Yasi and wants to help the victims.
Hayden’s elder brother, Gary, who lives in Ingham, was forced to seek refuge in a nearby shelter as the monster system swept across the coastline.
Now almost two months on, the decorated cricketer is determined to go in to bat for the North’s battling tourism industry during a whirlwind taste of the tropics.
The self-confessed adopted North Queenslander touched down in Townsville yesterday during a week-long tour as part of Operation Sunshine.
Hayden will be on hand to present more than $ 250,000 to local sporting clubs under the Cyclone Yasi Bouncing Back program.
The Townsville Bulletin, along with News Ltd counterparts the Innisfail Advocate, The Herbert River Express and The Cairns Post, has launched the initiative to help sports clubs and associations struggling to get back on their feet in the wake of Cyclone Yasi.
Hayden said it was comforting to see the region slowly returning to how he remembered it.
‘‘ I still get blown away by some of the things that are on offer after years of travelling through the North so I am trying to encourage people from across Australia to see for themselves,’’ he said.
The former Test opener and keen angler is looking to lure tourists back to Queensland after a disastrous wet season.
The 39-year-old is set to make an appearance in cyclone-weary communities across the region includ- ing Ingham, Innisfail, Cardwell and Tully.
Hayden said he was looking forward to getting back to regional areas.
‘‘ I have a long association with North Queensland and spent a lot of time here so I always look forward to getting the opportunity to come back,’’ he said. ‘‘ The people are always so hospitable and really engaged and connected in what they are doing.’’
Hayden’s travel adventures can be followed at http:// www. facebook. com/ OpSunshine.
HELPING HAND: former Australian test batsman Matthew Hayden ( right) catches up with Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston