Sports correspondent & historian
Bay of Plenty Coastland Senior and Junior Secondary rep cricket teams both took out Northern Districts age-group titles in the last two weeks to repeat their titles from 2016.
Rotorua provided the backdrop for the Coastland junior secondary side’s victory in the Twenty20 format reduced to three days play due to rain. Coastland defeated Hamilton by six wickets in the decider to finish the tournament with a four-game unbeaten record.
Coastland senior secondary team won the Alan Whimp Trophy for the sixth occasion after blitzing Hamilton in the one-day final. Hamilton made their first mistake when they won the toss and elected to bat. The Coastland bowlers bundled them out for 80, then cruised home to victory without losing a wicket.
Coastland senior secondary coach Pete Swan, who first took a team to the senior secondary tournament to Gisborne in 2004, plays a vital role in the Bay of Plenty Cricket player pathway.
In the last five years, the Bay of Plenty senior men's side has become the front-runner in New Zealand minor association cricket. They have the enviable record of winning NZ Cricket’s Minor Association prize of the Hawke Cup twice and repelling eight challenges.
The transition from the age-group game to the Bay of Plenty senior men's teams is via the Coastland and Lakeland senior secondary sides.
Swan’s Coastland age-group graduates reads like a who's who of the region’s best talent. His 2004 side included Bay of Plenty senior stalwarts in Peter Drysdale and Tony Goodin along with recently retired Bay keeper Tim Clarke.
The following year Black Cap stars Kane Williamson and Trent Boult made their Coastland senior debut. ND and Bay of Plenty batting star Bharat Popli, who holds the Bay’s all-time record of ten centuries came under Swan's guidance in 2006.
Fast forward a few years and it was the turn of Joe Carter and Sean Davey to join Swan’s age-group teams. The pair who now play ND first class cricket earned selection in the New Zealand Under 19 team in 2012 that played in the ICC Under Cricket World Cup in Australia.
What excites many Bay Cricket fans is the quality of the last two years’ Coastland senior squads, which suggest there is another crop of genuine Bay of Plenty talent in the wings.
Last season Marcel Collett, Fergus Lellman, Ben Pomare, Josh Earle, Dan Price, Dominic Crombie, Cam Riley and Craig Baldry went on from the Coastland senior secondary team to play for the Bay of Plenty Development team. Already this season Taylor Bettlehiem and Jacob Logan have made their Bay Development debut.
In addition to the talented group that played in Gisborne last week, Pomare, Lellman and Tim Pringle were selected for the ND Under 19 team playing at the NZ Cricket National tournament. Pringle already has a Bay of Plenty Cricket milestones as the youngest player selected for the Bay of Plenty senior men's side aged 15 years 92 days, ahead of Kane Williamson and former Black Cap Matthew Hart.
Sideline Sid is going to take a couple of weeks break to catch the international and domestic action at the Bay Oval and wishes Sun Live readers a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.