The Hobart

Over The Fence With Shaun And Zac

by Stephanie Williams
Over The Fence With Shaun And Zac

After overcoming financial and social hurdles to get the Derwent Scorpions established, they struggled to field a full team or win games. Determined to turn the team’s fortunes around, Shaun and Zac managed to recruit new teammates from Hobart’s migrant community. Director Eliya Cohen shares, “For Zac, who struggles with his mental health and Shaun, a young father, cricket gave them both a sense of purpose and a greater connection with a broader community than they had previously known.”

The film is being shown as part of an upcoming short film festival on SBS On Demand from 13-15 September. Ahead of the festival, we sat down with Zac and Shaun at their home ground to chat all things cricket.

Have you both always loved cricket?

Zac: I used to play at school. I’ve been playing for about 15 years.

Shaun: We’ve got two different stories. Zac’s been around cricket most of his life and I come from a football background. I only started playing cricket four years ago. I was getting bored being home over the summer and not doing anything, so I thought I’d try cricket.

And do you love it? I think it was you Zac in the film, you said “I think about cricket all the time”?

Zac: Yeah, I do!

Shaun: I do now too. I’ve grown into it.

How did your multicultural cricket team in the Intercultural Sports League (ICSL) come about?

Shaun: We started the Derwent Scorpions cricket team about three years ago. We were looking for a competition to play in, and we just couldn’t get the funds up to play in the main comp in Hobart. To get in, you’re looking at $20,000 just to enter a team. At first, we had a team of just Australians. And then over the years, that escalated. There’s about three or four Australians at the moment and the rest are people from different countries and different cultures. They wanted a game of cricket, so we gave them one.

When the competition first started there were six teams. It’s just grown every year. Then there was nine. And now, there’s twelve. It’s just getting bigger each year. Raj Chopra runs the competition. He’s very professional and has always been so good to our team, and me personally. He’s always backed us in and given us a chance to play in this competition. When Raj reached out and gave us a go, we were really thankful that something like this had come up.

There’s lots of people moving here and Hobart’s changing quite a bit at the moment. Do you think your league helps that situation?

Shaun: Yes, it does. A lot of them love their cricket and quite a few of them, when they move to Australia or Hobart, they’ve struggled finding cricket teams to play for. I think that’s one of the reasons why Raj introduced the ICSL. He wanted to involve everyone and wanted everyone to have a fair go and just enjoy their cricket. And it’s brought everyone a lot closer. It’s a lot more competitive than what it was. But you also make a lot of mates out of it. It’s not every day that you could run out there with your mates and have a game of cricket. So, when the opportunity is there just go and enjoy it and do your best.

Did set out to bridge a cultural divide, or was your strategy of getting overseas-born players purely based on winning games?

Shaun: It was a bit of both. We did want to have some multicultural people joining our team. When I first started playing cricket, I joined an all Indian team. I started playing for the Weily Park Rockers and I was the only Aussie. I got to know them and they’re all nice fellas. I just thought that we’d try and get a few in our team.

In the film you set about recruiting new Indian and Pakistani players using a few unique methods.

Shaun: We’d done up some flyers and went around putting them on shop windows, the gym, restaurants and taxi ranks. We thought getting these overseas players in might add more motivation to the rest of the team because they love cricket so much.

And has it?

Shaun: It has now, yeah. When we first started, a few of our team didn’t really know how to take the players from overseas and were wary about having them in the team. I reckon it’s brought everyone closer.

Zac: I’ve enjoyed it. The team is a lot more competitive and the whole competition is a lot more competitive. It’s actually a lot harder, with a lot more good players.

Shaun: A lot of the teams now want to win, win, win. They want to take that trophy at the end of the season.

What sort of reaction do think you’ll have down at the nets after the SBS screening?

Shaun: We’re looking forward to our story getting out. It’s going to be good to be recognised for the hard work that we’ve been doing.

Zac: We’re famous!

While filming you we’re all living together at your place, Shaun, with your young family. Has the Hobart housing crisis affected you guys?

Shaun: Yes it has. Zac isn’t living with us at the moment now though. He does come stay with me sometimes during the week. He went through a break up and he found himself with nowhere else to go. So we said he can come and stay with us for a little bit, until he got some stuff sorted out.

What sort of work do you both do?

Shaun: I used to work at Cosgrove High School as a teacher’s assistant, with kids with special needs. Unfortunately I lost hours due to staff cut-backs. I’m not currently working and I’m just trying to find a job.

Zac: I’m a concreter.

So people can keep their eye out for you on the building site for a celebrity in their midst?

Zac: Ha, yes they can!

Who do you both admire in the cricket game?

Zac: That would be David Warner. I would say Kumar Sangakkara from Sri Lanka until he retired. They were both my idols when I was growing up – the way they love their cricket.

Shaun: I’m a bowler, so I look up to a lot of the bowlers from Australia. I try and look at how they do it, what their routines are and work as hard as I can with that. I also like Steve Smith. Just the way he bats and the patience he has. The ability to go out there and perform each week.

Any messages for your ICSL opponents?

Zac: The Scorpions are coming this year! Now that I’m in charge. I will be captain this year. Shaun’s stepping down for a year.

When does the new season start?

Zac: We’ve got the ICSL season launch next month and the first game is usually mid-October.

Check out Sidelines, starring Zac, Shaun and the Derwent Scorpions on SBS On Demand from 13 September. ■

Love this

Cold Water Wake Up Call
It seems everywhere I turn someone is talking about or participating in cold water swimming right now.
A Short Geelong Getaway
Since the Spirit of Tasmania terminal moved from Melbourne to Geelong late last year, a visit to Geelong has been on the radar.
27 Hobart Friends Get Snipping For One Off Wine
The borders were declared shut in Tasmania on the 30th of March, 2020; the first stare to do so amid the COVID- 19 pandemic and hard lockdown of Hobart followed.
Danphe Nepalese and Indian Food + Peppermint Bay Bar and Bistro
Nepalese food is a comfort in our house. Having spent much time trekking and mountain climbing in Nepal as a younger man, Nepalese food is something I always love to go back to.
That’s DR Hannah Gadsby To You
From Smithton to Netflix and the Emmys stage, Tasmanian stand up comic Hannah Gadsby has forged an unlikely path. Following on from the massive success of her shows Nanette and Douglas, Hannah brings her new show Body of Work to Hobart this month.
PODCAST: Incat founder Robert Clifford on why electric boats are the future
Robert Clifford is the founder of Incat, a Hobart company building fast ferries for the world. Always looking to future opportunities, he has identified where Hobart sits in the next wave of transportation. For more of this interview listen to The Hobart Magazine podcast.
Is Tourism Ready For More Forestry Wars?
Tasmanian forests are special. They’re home to centuries-old trees, including the tallest flowering trees on the planet, and support unique native species. Yet not everyone agrees on how these forests should be managed.
Hobart Chefs: When The Obsession Becomes Real
Tasmania’s brand as a foodie haven is cemented. But within the local hospitality industry there are those who love to use local produce...and those who are next-level obsessed with it. We spoke to a bunch of Hobart chefs who are top of the game when it comes to fostering relationships with local farmers and growers.
Did You Know Australia’s First Female Doctor Was Hobartian?
Tasmania, despite its small size and population in comparison to the mainland, has produced more than its proportionally predicted percentage of significant figures and heroes of Australian history. 
Return Travellers Adding Pressure to Hobart Housing
For all of us 2020 was a year like no other, punctuated by rapid change and plenty of new challenges. For vulnerable people in Tasmania, including people facing homelessness, those on low incomes and those facing increasingly higher rents, it was very challenging. We are seeing a growing demand for homes in Tassie from international travellers returning home, people moving for work and others seeking the lifestyle that our Apple Isle has to offer.
AboutContributeAdvertiseNewsletter Sign UpContact
February 2024

Stay up to date with everything happening at the Hobart Magazine.

Thank you to Luke Brokensha for mobilising his friends and local residents recently to host two rubbish clean ups along the Hobart Rivulet after heavy rains.
The warm weather returns...hello summer.
Need a laugh? Check out @theinspiredunemployed feed on Instagram.
Moto Vecchia Cafe in Bellerive and Czegs Cafe in Richmond have joined the Clarence City Council dementia program, creating dementia-friendly spaces for all patrons.
It’s hard to believe it’s not standard practice to have a working phone in every aged care room - shared phones make private conversations impossible and increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Tacks on the tracks. Mountain bikers beware of tacks being left on certain tracks on the mountain.
Just when you think your cousins are alright. NZ Opposition Leader Judith Collins took aim at Tassie during her recent (unsuccessful) campaign, calling us Australia’s “poor cousin.” She also seems worried about us nabbing tech businesses, “It’s a lovely part of the world but do you necessarily want to go there with your high- tech business? Possibly not,” she said. We beg to differ!