The Bay of Plenty selectors have picked a team strong on Fergus Hickey cricket experience to try to defend their title at the annual Northern Districts one-day tournament to be played at Owen Delaney Park, in Taupo, from November 11-13.
All players named are from the Western Bay, with none from the once powerful associations of Rotorua and Whakatane - which is a fair reflection of the poor standards shown by their club teams in the Baywide competition last season.
Six players are from Cadets, five from Mount Maunganui and two from Greerton in the 13-man team named by selectors Cameron Burns and Crispian Stewart.
Bay of Plenty skipper Jono Boult, who has played 47 games in the Bay's blue and gold uniform, is an all-rounder of genuine quality. Last season Boult smashed Graeme Aldridge's previous total wickets in a season, taking a remarkable 33 wickets with his flighted off-spin. Included in his new season record figures were 10 wickets in a match and two six-wicket hauls.
With his 69 wickets for the Bay, Jono has amassed 1549 runs, with a highest score of 107, since making his Bay of Plenty debut in the 2003-2004 season.
"It is always an honour to captain the Bay, and I have done it for a few years now and love doing it," Boult said. "We have a strong, well-balanced side, with plenty of good pace bowlers and three spinners in the team.
"Tommy Clout is a new player to watch. He had a couple of years at Tauranga Boys' and he is starting to come along nicely. Hopefully he can do a job for us and take that role that Ben Williams used to do and bowl with a bit of pace, which is good.
"Our number one priority is to challenge for the Hawke Cup against Hamilton, win it and then defend it."
Another Bay team member long on experience at a relatively youthful age is top-order batsman Bharat Popli.
Since earning selection for the Bay senior team while still at Tauranga Boys' in 2009, the prolific run maker has created his own part of Bay of Plenty cricket history, equalling the most centuries for Bay of Plenty. In his debut season Bharat smashed two centuries, including his highest total of 122 not out, and has since added two more hundreds, to equal Mike Wright and Richard Shrimpton with four centuries to their names.
Last season was notable for two maiden hundreds posted by Bay of Plenty batsmen.
Peter Drysdale blasted 102 in the season finale against Hamilton, when the Bay of Plenty side won the Fergus Hickey Rosebowl for the third time in four seasons. New Zealand Under-19 player Joe Carter also reached the elusive three figures, with 104 against Poverty Bay.
Along with a strong batting attack the Bay team possess a powerful bowling strike force.
Tony Goodin is a quick bowler of real quality, while fellow paceman Brett Hampton's best Fergus Hickey bowling figures are 7/60 against Counties Manukau two seasons ago. Mount Maunganui's Dale Swan is a spin bowler who can be hard to combat and he is also a useful lower order batsman.
The team have just two players who will be making their Bay of Plenty debut at Owen Delaney Park.
Former Canterbury and New Zealand Under-19 player Cory Anderson has quickly made his mark since shifting to the Bay, while Greerton fast bowler Clout showed outstanding form in the recent Attrill Cup series of games, which doubled as Bay of Plenty team trials.
Bay of Plenty Fergus Hickey Team to play at ND One-Day tournament at Taupo, November 11-13:
(BOP Caps and club in brackets) Jono Boult (47) (captain, Cadets), Joe Carter (Cadets, 11), Peter Drysdale (Mt Maunganui, 24), Bharat Popli (Mt Maunganui, 26), Corey Anderson (Cadets, 0), Scott Steward (Cadets, 2), Ben Christensen (Cadets, 26), Dale Swan (Mt Maunganui, 20), Tim Clarke (Mt Maunganui, 15), Brett Hampton (Greerton, 19), Tony Goodin (Mt Maunganui, 22), Sean Davey (Cadets, 5) Tommy Clout (Greerton, 0).