Sports correspondent & historian
A handful of spectators at Pemberton Park watched a Black Cap batsman make his debut in Baywide premier club cricket last Saturday.
Test opener Jeet Raval is another in a line of Black Cap and ND professional players who have lured to the Western Bay of Plenty by the climate and lifestyle, in recent seasons.
Another big reason for the shift is the easy access to the superb grass wicket training facilities at the Bay Oval.
All professional players in New Zealand are required to be registered with a local cricket club, with the former Auckland resident joining the Greerton Cricket Club.
Opening the innings at any level is a daunting prospect, with the first two batsmen at the crease tasked with absorbing the early pressure and enthusiasm of a fired-up opposition bowling attack.
Greerton batted first against Te Puke, with the Black Cap opening batsman joined by swashbuckling Greerton opener Tom MacRury, who likes nothing better than to put the houses around Pemberton Park under attack.
Raval took a measured approach to the his teams start, leaving MacRury to blaze away to smash 58 off 48 balls, that included four 4's and six of his trademark shots over the boundary ropes.
The departure of his opening partner saw the Greerton new recruit show his prowess as an accumulator of runs. Thirteen 4's, were interspersed with singles and twos and threes, as he worked his way to his sides top score of 92 from 105 balls.
While his Greerton premier club mates gave Jeet an enthusiastic welcome, he is likely to be seen in the black and gold club strip on few occasions, due to his professional cricket obligations.
Other Black Cap players who have played occasional Baywide club cricket in the last decade include Te Ahu Davis, Cory Anderson, Dean Brownlie and homegrown heroes in Kane Williamson, Daniel Flynn, Graeme Aldridge and Trent Boult.
It was just last March, when the biggest crowd seen at club cricket for years turned out at Pemberton Park to watch Trent Boult give a master-class in pace bowling in his Cadets strip against Greerton.
Five wickets at a cost of 38 runs kept the spectators entranced, as Cadets stormed to a 73 run win.
The Bay of Plenty Cricket selectors are sure to be keeping in close contact with Jeet Raval, with an eye to selection him for the Bay of Plenty senior representative side, if his other commitments allow.
During the 1980's, the migration of New Zealand players to the Western Bay began, with Lance Cairns, Andy Roberts and Bruce Blair, turning out for the Te Puke first eleven and the Bay of Plenty senior men's team.
Avid Bay cricket fans will recall the occasion in 2013, when Counties Manukau faced a Bay of Plenty dream team at Bay Oval.
The visitors could hardly believe their eyes when Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Daniel Flynn, Graeme Aldridge and Cory Anderson turned out for the Bay side.
Led by a sparkling 109 from Cory Anderson's willow weapon, the home team fought their way to an outright victory.
Local cricket fans will hope that the stars can align during the current cricket season to allow Jeet Raval to make an appearance in Bay of Plenty representative cricket history.