Stuart Whitaker is a sports reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times and a general reporter for the Bay News.

Northern Districts prepare at Bay Oval

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APPRECIATED: Coach James Pamment says Northern Districts feel fortunate to be able to use Bay Oval as their spring camp training base. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK
APPRECIATED: Coach James Pamment says Northern Districts feel fortunate to be able to use Bay Oval as their spring camp training base. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK

Northern Districts' Bay Oval fixtures 2016-17
Plunket Shield:
v Auckland Aces November 14-17
v Wellington Firebirds March 21-24
McDonald's Super Smash
v Otago Volts December 18
v Auckland Aces December 27
v Canterbury Kings December 29

Cricket

There might be an opportunity to see the Bay's Black Caps' stars in Northern Districts colours this summer - but don't get too excited just yet.

Northern Districts' Papamoa-based coach James Pamment said the likes of Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson and star bowler Trent Boult might play in the T20 game against Otago Volts at Bay Oval on December 18.

''New Zealand Cricket have said there is a window in T20 cricket when they will play three rounds, of which one game is at the Bay Oval,'' said Pamment.

''It's something that's been flagged to us, but we've had opportunities like that flagged to us in the past, then all of a sudden they've disappeared because individuals have decided that rest and recovery is better than playing T20 cricket or first-class cricket.

We are hopeful to have them at some point, but it won't be for a lot [of games] because it's a busy summer of international cricket.''

The Northern Districts squad spent four days this week at Bay Oval as part of their preparation for the forthcoming season.

First up will be a Plunket Shield game against Canterbury in Christchurch, starting on October 22.

''At the moment we are in week two of a three-week spring camp campaign that's all about returning to grass wicket training,'' said Pamment.

He said the time at Bay Oval was about making the transition from the indoor work that has been done through the winter.

''Next week we are hoping to get out in Hamilton to play a three-day game which will springboard us into the next week for our first game down in Christchurch.''

''If we play another association we are only able to field 12-14 players, where we feel we want to give 20-22 players the opportunity to get out on to the grass at this stage of the pre-season.''

Pamment said he was happy with the squad he had at his disposal, even though there were plenty of players on international duty.

''As we prepare for first game in Christchurch we've got eight players out in India which is always a challenge, but what it does do is provide inspiration and opportunities for some of the other guys coming through.

''We'll pick a strong team to play in those initial games and I feel that we'll be very competitive.''

Among those Pamment was looking to for a good season is Bharat Popli, who had a stellar 2015-16 and who had been identified as a potential Black Cap.

''It will be a tough second year after what he did last year. He's got to set his sights really high and meet those expectations that not only we have for him, but also the rest of the country have now.''

Teams would be aware of his capabilities.

''Perhaps in the past he hasn't courted as much attention as some of our senior players when the opposition have looked at what our players do. You would imagine they would spend a lot of time looking at [Daniel] Flynn and looking at [Dean] Brownlie and looking at [Anton] Devcich, and perhaps the other Black Caps when they are around. But Bharat, he'll be on the radar now so he's going to have to be looking to continually develop his game and build on the mental capacity that he showed last year.''

Pamment would also be looking to Flynn and Brownlie to make telling contributions.

''They are two key players and we are hoping they have very good seasons.

There's one Bay player Pamment was keen to see regain his form.

''Joe Carter had been a bit light last season on his runs in first-class cricket and we hope the changes Joe has made in his game will get him back to where he was before.''

Pamment said each of the three competitions - the Plunket Shield, McDonald's Super Smash and Ford Trophy - would be taken on its own merits, with none receiving greater attention than any of the others.

''The way the comp is structured this year it's a little easier to do that with the five Plunket Shield games at the front, then the white ball campaign, then the five at the end.''

He hoped he would have opportunities to blood younger players.

''From a young player point of view, it's about finding the right moment to expose them to first-class cricket and find the format that's going to allow them to have the most success.''

Having come through the ranks at Bay of Plenty Cricket, Pamment had seen the development of Bay Oval over the years.

''I was involved in football for a number of years and I returned to cricket ... at the time the Bay Oval we being developed.

''It's been outstanding to see and we feel very fortunate to be able to use this as our spring camp training base.

''If we didn't have this place at this time then we wouldn't be able to get on to grass because we can't get near the one in Hamilton because its being protected for international cricket, so we are really lucky.''

- Bay of Plenty Times

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