Zimbabwe light up Red Bull Campus Cricket
The fun-loving team from Bulawayo have earned the name of the most entertaining and jovial team of the tournament.
They haven’t progressed to the semi-finals, nor did play to their potential during their campaign, but the Red Bull Campus Cricket World Final first-timers from Zimbabwe sure have enjoyed their time in Sri Lanka.
Though the tournament is in its sixth year, this is the first occasion in which Zimbabwe is being represented, with Bulawayo college National University of Science and Technology (NUST) having won the domestic competition to earn qualification to this World Final. With neighbours South Africa often strong contenders for the tittle, the addition of a Zimbabwe team in 2017 has helped intensify the African flavour at the tournament and the World Final has been a more joyous event for it.
“It’s been a great experience,” coach Gangy Bryan says. “We left Zimbabwe at a time when the university lectures were just beginning, so some of the guys are getting away from a bit of academic pressure. Everyone is excited and everyone is happy to be in Sri Lanka.”
That they've been happy to be on the island has been clear from their antics during their campaign. Often in high spirits on the field, regardless of how well the team is doing, the NUST players have also frequently been the most vocal spectators at the grounds while other teams are playing their matches. They shouted for local team Business Management School during the semi-final stages, but supported their neighbours from South Africa in the final.
Off-field events have also been endlessly enlivened by their presence. The 'NUST boys' have quickly gained a reputation for being the most spirited and jovial outfit at the competition – a joke and a smile always on their lips. Though they leave Sri Lanka without winning a match, they depart having made plenty of new friends.
“The people here in Sri Lanka are nice – very friendly,” Bryan says. “There have been a lot of great team events and they have been awesome. We had such a good time here. We’re smiling.”
On the cricket front, the maiden trip to the World Final has served up plenty of lessons for the NUST team, especially when it comes to acclimatising to foreign conditions. Bryan feels his team improved as the tournament went on.
“It’s a learning curve for us. It hasn’t been easy trying to adapt to the heat and the humidity. But we did adapt a little bit considering it was the first time we played in such a tournament, and the boys were not at ease. But when we played the last match, against Sri Lanka, the guys were composed. They showed a bit of courage and commitment. It was good. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. When we come back next year, the guys will be composed and they will be relaxed.”
Next year, perhaps, NUST will make more of a cricketing impression on the tournament. But even with their irrepressible joy and warmth, they have contributed plenty to this event.
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