Cricket: Black Caps big boost to Bay's prospects

Cricket fans are in for a treat this weekend when Tauranga's four Black Caps make a rare appearance for Bay of Plenty at the Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui.

A single window of opportunity in the NZ Cricket schedules has seen Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Graeme Aldridge and Daniel Flynn jump at the chance to play for their province in a Fergus Hickey Rosebowl encounter against Counties Manukau.

To give the game a real edge, the final Northern Districts Hawke Cup Challenge points are on the line, with the winner of the annual series earning a Hawke Cup Challenge in March next year against holders Hamilton.

While Bay of Plenty lead the standings from Northland, they must take at least first innings points from this weekend's visitors to book their challenge.

Due to the demands of professional cricket in the modern era, the Black Caps get few opportunities to be available for minor association cricket.

Aldridge will play his 43rd game in the blue and gold uniform on the weekend.

But his Northern Districts commitments have meant it is six years since he played for the Bay team.

Aldridge, who toured Zimbabwe last year with the Black Caps, made his Bay of Plenty debut in a Hawke Cup defence against Central Otago in March 1997, when the Bay posted their highest ever total of 553/9.

Determined middle order test batsmen Flynn is another who will be making a return the Bay side after several years' absence.

In just 17 games for the Bay, Flynn has blasted two centuries. He has a liking for the strong Northland attack, scoring an unbeaten 103 against the Taniwha in 2003 and 119 in 2006.

Boult, with 10 Bay games to his credit, and Williamson with 12, are two of New Zealand cricket's brightest lights and both made their Bay of Plenty debut while still at secondary school.

Just a week ago the three internationals were making their mark for the Black Caps in the test victory over Sri Lanka.

Former Tauranga Boys' First XI captains Williamson and Flynn made telling contributions with the bat. Williamson scored a century and Flynn a half century, while Otumoetai College-educated Boult took seven wickets in the match.

Bay coach Ben Williams says it means the world to the team to have the Black Caps playing.

"For people who have been involved with Bay cricket for a while, it is something to be really proud about that we are fielding eight first class cricketers and three Northern Districts A boys as well," said Williams.

"We don't often get the chance to get together so this is a fantastic opportunity.

"This just showcases what sort of state Bay of Plenty cricket is in.

"It is just so exciting and I am hoping we can get all the kids down there and a few people to watch and take some pride in what the players have achieved."

Williams will not be giving any advice for the likes of Williamson and Flynn. He just wants to watch them bat all day.

"They are all great guys and always keep in touch with how the Bay team is going when they are away. I think they will enjoy the environment because we do have a good team culture."

Bay of Plenty Cricket CEO Paul Read said it is a unique opportunity to see the Tauranga-based Black Caps and four Northern Knights in action for the Bay team.

"The guys have had a long and tough international schedule over winter, so we're absolutely delighted they all agreed to play for the Bay team this weekend.

2012 Hawke Cup Points

Bay of Plenty 29, Northland 20, Counties Manukau 16, Waikato Valley 9, Poverty Bay 2.

Bay of Plenty Fergus Hickey Results

Round Four (24/25 November)

Bay of Plenty 352/8 declared (Brett Hampton 81, Bharat Popli 66, Scott Steward 58, Sean Davey 38no, C Anderson 21; James Marshall 2/44) lost first innings points Northland 353/5 (James Marshall 82, H Cooper 77no, Michael Parlane 64no, Bradley Kneebone 53, Neil Parlane 43)

Round Three (13 November)

Counties Manukau 132 (Jono Boult 6/30) lost to Bay of Plenty 134/5 (Bharat Popli 30no, Tim Clarke 29no, J Boult 27)

Round Two (12 November)

Bay of Plenty 178 (Bharat Popli 49, Scott Steward 41, Joe Carter 29) lost to Hamilton 151/5 (Tony Goodin 2/25, Tommy Clout 2/27)

Round One 11 November)

Bay of Plenty 165 (Joe Carter 21, Bharat Popli 20, Tim Clarke 20) defeated Northland 131(Jono Boult 3/14, Tony Goodin 3/26)


Bay of Plenty Fergus Hickey Team to play Counties Manukau:

Jono Boult (captain) Joe Carter, Peter Drysdale, Bharat Popli, Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Graeme Aldridge, Daniel Flynn, Corey Anderson, Tim Clarke, Brett Hampton, Tony Goodin.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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