Cricket le­gend bats for re­gion’s tourism re­cov­ery

Townsville Bulletin - - News -

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.

Photo: EVAN MOR­GAN

HELP­ING HAND: for­mer Aus­tralian test bats­man Matthew Hay­den ( right) catches up with Cow­boys co-cap­tain Johnathan Thurston

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