Soggy finish to Bay cricket season

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian
www.sunlive.co.nz

A soggy Sunday afternoon finish wrapped up the Bay of Plenty Cricket representative season, where the Bay team retained the two big trophies that they play for each cricket year.

Seven consecutive weeks of representative cricket since the end of January has resulted in the Hawke Cup and ND Fergus Hickey Rosebowl, again, spending the winter at Bay of Plenty Cricket headquarters at the Bay Oval. 

In 1910, Lord Hawke presented the Hawke Cup for competition between New Zealand minor association cricket teams.

Over the years the competition has had several change of format, but today's remains the NZ Cricket big prize for the minor associations in the country.

The current Hawke Cup is contested by the regional winners from four zones.

Bay of Plenty entered the 2017 Hawke Cup Direct Challenges as the holder, after relieving Hawke's Bay of the prestigious trophy 12 months ago.

Bay of Plenty can again be considered the best minor cricket association in the country after repelling all four Direct Challenges in the current season.

First up was the Zone One challenge from fellow Northern Districts side in Counties Manukau.

The Bay team simply blasted the ND visitors off the Bay Oval at the Mount, after Counties won the toss and inexplicably asked the hosts to bat first.

Led by visiting Yorkshire professional batsman Alex Lees, who smashed his way to the Bay of Plenty all-time highest score of 223, the Bay side posted 701 runs.

The Bay of Plenty bowlers took up from where the team batsmen left off, to bowl their side to a massive 481 first innings points victory.

The second Direct Challenge was against long-time rivals Hawke's Bay, who came to the Blake Park cricket field firmly fixed on revenge for the previous season loss, of the NZ Cricket symbol of minor association superiority.

The Bay of Plenty side had a big fight on their hands after being bowled out for just 170 in their first turn at bat.

However, our bowlers rolled the challengers for 103 and then launched another blazing attack, before being dismissed for 470.

Alex Lees reinforced his absolute class with 141 runs, which gave him back to back Hawke Cup centuries and a remarkable average of 122.6 in his first two Hawke Cup games.

Former Hawke Cup heavyweights Nelson made the journey north in the third Direct Challenge of the season.

The Bay representatives continued their batting blitzkrieg posting 469/9, with Sean Davey and Joe Carter both belting centuries.

With Nelson bowled out for 275, the Bay of Plenty team quickly turned their attention to taking the Hawke Cup into the winter break.

Only Southland stood in the way of a Bay of Plenty domination of the 2017 Hawke Cup, with the two sides meeting in a rain interrupted encounter last Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The recuperative powers of the Bay Oval after heavy rain were displayed with the teams managing periods of play on all three days.

While the game petered out in a rain affected draw, Bay of Plenty achieved their mission of repelling all four Hawke Cup Direct Challenges at the Bay Oval during the season.

During the four Hawke Cup match-ups a myriad of Bay of Plenty all-time records were obliterated including equalling the Bay of Plenty highest score of 701,

Alex Lees smashing the all-time highest score and back to back Hawke Cup centuries from Lees and Sean Davey.

Donovan Deeble also blasted his way to three figures, which gave the Bay of Plenty side a remarkable six tons in their first three Hawke Cup defences.

The Bay of Plenty representative team, can rightly claim to be the current Hawke Cup heavyweight, with ten Hawke Cup Direct Challenges victories and a solitary loss since lifting the NZ Cricket silverware from Hamilton in January 2013.

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Omokoroa Beach Wharf. Photo: Mike Berry. Send us your photos from around the Bay of Plenty. email: photos@thesun.co.nz