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Zimbabwe cricket bleeds players just as badly as SA
Would Hilton Cartwright have been a Zimbabwean Test player if his parents didn't need to emigrate? Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images.
Though he left Zimbabwe at age 7, Hilton Cartwright’s selection for Australia highlights the talent drain the country has experienced.
Before South African cricket fans complain about the amount of local players turning out for other countries, consider Zimbabwe for a moment.
On Tuesday, the Australian selectors announced the inclusion of Hilton Cartwright for the second Test against Pakistan.
Cartwright, a 24-year-old all-rounder, was born in Harare and grew up on a tobacco farm in Marondera, a town 72 km east of the Zimbabwean capital.
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Strictly speaking, Cartwright wasn’t lost to Zimbabwean cricket because his parents were forced to emigrate to Australia when he was 7.
His father was one of the white farmers affected by Robert Mugabe’s controversial land reform programme.
It’s highly unlikely Cartwright would’ve had the same solid cricketing grounding in Zimbabwe as in Perth but it highlights again how much talent the country has theoretically lost.
Last month, Colin de Grandhomme made his Test debut for New Zealand against Pakistan.
He took 6/41 and remains one of the top all-rounders in the country.
De Grandhomme played for Zimbabwe Under-19 as well as their ‘A’-side.
He probably would’ve played international cricket far earlier if he decided to stay yet instead chose to qualify for New Zealand.
The England top-order batter Gary Ballance is another frustrating example.
As a 16-year-old, he already played for Zimbabwe in an Under-19 World Cup but accepted a scholarship in England without Zimbabwe even having a chance of somehow keeping him.
Yet Zimbabwe’s biggest problem is that stalwarts who played for them don’t want to do so anymore.
Batting kingpin Brendan Taylor and fast bowler Kyle Jarvis have appeared in Tests but currently prefer to earn pounds with English counties instead of representing their country.
Earlier this year, Zimbabwe Cricket’s chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani revealed they actually wanted to try and recruit the Curran brothers, Tom and Sam, to play international cricket for them.
Their father is the late Kevin, who was a brilliant all-rounder in the 1980s.
The Currans though grew up in England and given the poor state of domestic cricket in Zimbabwe, there’s no incentive for them to come back.