Indoor cricket and Steamers

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

Indoor cricket is one sport that has completely flown under Sideline Sid's radar until the Trans-Tasman Masters Indoor Cricket series came to town last week. 

Held at the Bay Indoor Centre at Newton Road at Mount Maunganui, the Australia verses New Zealand series brought together the best Over 35, 40, 45 and 50 players from the two countries together, in head to head combat.  

Having never watched Indoor Cricket live before - the first impression walking into the Bay Indoor Centre was the noise of competition and the frenetic non-stop action. 

Played on a court not much bigger than a tennis court and with two batsmen and eight fielders in action on the enclosed court, it makes for mayhem and high drama during a game. 

Two sets of stumps set apart at the regulation distance are similar to the outdoor game, however, the non-strikers crease is halfway down the pitch, which only increases the mayhem during a match.

Runs are accumulated in a variety of ways after striking the ball, with the fielders ready to swoop just metres away from the batter. 

Players bat in pairs with four overs apiece under fire, while the opposition bowlers fire two over bullets at the batsmen.

Controlled havoc probably best sums up the 16 overs per team games. 

Overseeing the action is an umpire perched some 3 metres above the court on a raised platform.

Indoor Cricket umpiring is not for the faint-hearted with numerous calls to contest the decisions. 

A recently new sport down under, the indoor game made its entrance into Australia in the late 1970's, before crossing the ditch a few years later.

Australia and New Zealand dominate the world indoor game, with the Aussie's winning all 10 World Cups men's titles, since the initial event in 1995. 

There has been plenty of hurt for the Kiwi sides at the sports pinnacle tournament, with Australia defeating New Zealand in seven of the ten World Cup finals.

The Australian Women have also dominated the Indoor Cricket World Cup winning all nine that have taken place. 

One real difference between the two countries, is that Cricket Australia oversee the game over the ditch, while in New Zealand indoor cricket administration is a stand-alone body with much less clout than their Australian counterparts. 

While Australia swept the Over 40, 45 and 50 division winning all three grades three nil, they had to wave the white flag of surrender, in the Over 35 series.

After sharing the series in game two, the Aussie's could only watch as New Zealand then won three on the trot to post a 4-1 series win. 

A 17 year drought was ended at the Tauranga Domain on Saturday afternoon when the mighty Bay of Plenty Steamers, earned a berth in the NPC Championship final to be played out this weekend.

While there have been a couple of hiccups on the way to the title decider - three victories on the trot have taken the Blue and Gold brigade to Wellington on Friday night. 

The Steamers face a mighty challenge to defeat Wellington at the Cake Tin, however the resolve and commitment to play for each other, will take the team a long way on Friday night. 

Go the Steamers.

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The moon peeping through the clouds at Pillans Point. Photo: Mike Berry.

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