Cricket: Four tons set the cup alight

By Peter White

Four centuries by Baywide Cup batsman set the Bay of Plenty premier competition alight on Saturday and some hot form was shown by key members of the Bay of Plenty side ahead of this week's Northern Districts Fergus Hickey tournament in Taupo.

They were the performances you would expect from the elite club players and certainly they bode well for the Bay's chances of not just retaining the Fergus Hickey Trophy but grabbing a Hawke Cup challenge against Hamilton later in the summer.

The match-up in Rotorua between Central and Mount Maunganui produced nearly 500 runs and a century to a batsman from each side.

Mount Maunganui made first use of the wicket at Boord Park, with Tim Clarke smashing his way to 140 before his side declared at 276/4. Ben Guild was there at the conclusion of the Mount innings with an unbeaten 65, with Bay of Plenty batsman Peter Drysdale posting 43 runs. Andrew Gibbs took two wickets for the home side.

Central weren't deterred chasing the large target and set about the run chase in a positive manner thanks to Peter Wood, who blasted his way to 103 not out, as his side reached 214/7. While the home side lost, their return to form with the bat should give the side plenty of confidence for the rest of the season.

An outstanding wicket at the Te Puke Domain resulted in another high scoring encounter between Te Puke and Cadets.

The home side batted first and were dismissed for 220 with Charles Williams and Matt Dwight both posting half centuries. Bay skipper Jono Boult warmed up for the Northern Districts one-day tournament in Taupo by taking four wickets.

New Zealand Under-19 representative Joe Carter simply blasted Cadets to victory with a outstanding knock of 131 not out, with the visitors getting home with seven wickets in hand. Boult made a useful 38 with Matt Hill reaching 35.

The fourth century came at Pemberton Park, where Northern Knights new recruit Brett Hampton put the boundaries under siege blasting 148, as Greerton declared at 357/7 against BOP Indians. Shane Wineti and Hampton put together a substantial partnership before Wineti was run out for 80.

The Rotorua side took the game into the early evening, reaching 251/8. Bay of Plenty representative master blaster Bharat Popli, playing his first game for the Rotorua club, top-scored with an unbeaten 86 while Tommy Clout took four wickets for Greerton and Campbell Thomas snared three.

Hampton's innings of 148 was the talented allrounder's third in as many seasons playing for Greerton since he left Tauranga Boys' College. It continues a rich vein of form since he made real impact last season, which was not missed by the Northern Knights who gave Hampton a professional contract this season.

Hampton admits it was not easy to bat on a greenish Pemberton Park wicket but he soon knuckled down and formed a huge partnership with his captain Wineti.

"Basically I was just trying to spend some time in the middle as this was just my second bat for the season," Hampton said.

"It has been quite frustrating, to be honest, as I have been training a lot. You can net for hours but time in the middle is the most valuable. I made an effort to make sure I got myself in and it took a bit to get started before the runs began to flow."

Hampton has relished the chance to train with the Northern Knights and has noticed improvement in all facets of his game.

"It has been quite exciting. I remember getting the call I was to be contracted when I was playing in Holland and although I had been hoping for it, I was quite relieved and it meant I was getting noticed.

"Time in the camp has been awesome and it is a whole different level of training with them. It has been very good for my game, especially my batting. The facilities, coaches, team culture and environment are just outstanding."

Hampton is pleased he made the decision to join Greerton when he left school, despite the fact it was not the obvious move for him at the time.

"Three years ago when I decided to come to this club the main reason was so I could have more opportunities. If every player goes to Cadets or Mount then it is bad for the overall standards. Greerton was at the stage when they really didn't have too many young players but now we have got a few more who joined.

"The attraction of the club is higher for players to come here and we have a core of young players here now and a few old heads around like Muzz [Murray Jarvis], so it is all upwards from here now."

In the other game played, Hampton's old team Tauranga Boys' were surprisingly beaten by East Bay United in a low-scoring match in Whakatane.

The home team bowlers grabbed the ascendancy, bowling out Tauranga Boys' for just 98. Tom MacRury was the only batsman to show defiance reaching 34 before he was dismissed. Dean Butterworth 3/17 and Joel Mathews 2/32 did the damage with the ball for the home team.

However, East Bay United were made to fight to the end for the victory and lost seven wickets before they reached the target.

Mark Orchard gave his side a real chance to defend the modest target, taking 4-14, with East Bay United new recruit Ben Revell top scoring with 35.

A notable milestone was set in the match, with East Bay United all-rounder Alex Yates playing his 100th game for the Eastern Bay side.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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