|Sports correspondent & historian
There were a few eyebrows raised by local cricket watchers when the Bay of Plenty Cup premier club competition underwent a change of format at the start of the 2023-24 cricket season.
Bay of Plenty Cricket, after consultation with the nine premier captains, introduced a one day competition within a two-day format.
Introduced 17 years ago, the Bay of Plenty Cup had tinkered with bonus points and a 56/50 over format, to provide a point of difference from the traditional Williams Cup that ended the second half of the season.
Risk and reward were much of the drivers of the 2023 Bay of Plenty Cup competition format endorsed at the 2023 Baywide captain's meeting.
In a nutshell, the new format is a 100 over game where the team batting first has an option of batting the entire 100 overs. This is where risk and reward enters the equation.
With 20 points available for an outright victory, and just six and three points for a winning and losing draw respectively, captains are rewarded for chancing their arm. Declarations in cricket have always been the preserve of two-day (or longer) games.
The new Bay of Plenty Cup rules explicitly state ‘There shall be no limitation on the overs allowed for the team batting first and they may declare at any time’. ‘If the team batting first is bowled out, or declare their innings closed, the remaining overs will be added to the overs available to the team batting second’.
This presents the scenario where the team batting first ups their run rate to post a solid target, after say 40 overs, which gives them 60 overs to take 10 wickets and claim the maximum 20 points.
At nearly the halfway stage of the 2023 Bay of Plenty Cup preliminary competition, is the new format working? You Betcha.
The Tauranga City based teams domination of the Baywide competition has disappeared with a Bay of Plenty wide spread of teams currently sitting in the top four.
Te Puke, who establishment dates back to the 1880s, lead the standings from Mount Maunganui and Rotorua sides Geyser City and Central Indians. Lurking dangerously in fifth spot, after sitting out the weekend bye, is the Lake Taupo CC team.
Multiple Bay of Plenty Cup titleholders, Cadets and Greerton, sit in sixth and seventh place, with plenty of work to do to make the top two to contest the 2023 title decider.
No better game, than last weekend's clash between Greerton and Papamoa, illustrates the introduction of the declaration into the competition
Led by a quick-fire 113 from Greerton master-blaster Tom MacRury, the home side declared at 290/4 in the 39th over. Papamoa put up a gallant fight-back before being removed for 252 with six overs remaining in the one hundred over contest.
In my opinion, Bay of Plenty Cricket has got the three season-long competitions, spot on, in presenting three different challenges. The risk and reward Bay of Plenty Cup is interspersed with the smash and bash T20 title race.
The season is nicely finished off, with the traditional Williams Cup, which has sustained Bay of Plenty Cricket competition for over 90 seasons.