Bay of Plenty cricket's golden summer continues with the BOP Coastlands side winning the prestigious Northern Districts Senior Secondary Championship in Gisborne last week.
They were the first Bay of Plenty side to get their hands on the Alan Whimp Cup, named after the long-serving ND coaching director, since 2004 thanks to some outstanding individual performances backed up by a total team effort.
The event is the showcase for ND's age group talent from which the under-18 and under-16 sides are selected to progress to national tournaments.
Notable Bay players who have graduated from this tournament to higher honours include Trent Boult and Kane Williamson (New Zealand), Joe Carter and Sean Davey (NZ Under-19), Bharat Popli (BOP), and 2004 winners Peter Drysdale (BOP), Tony Goodin (BOP, Northern Districts A) and Tim Clarke (BOP wicketkeeper).
Interestingly this year's Hamilton coach, Michael Dodunski, was in the Hamilton team as a batsman in 2004 when the Bay last won the Alan Whimp Cup.
Over the final two day's play, first innings points against Hamilton were enough to give the Bay Coastlands team the title, and it was fitting the win was set up by another outstanding innings from captain Tom MacRury.
The Tauranga Boys' College opener made 101 out of his team's tally of 200 all out against a determined Hamilton bowling attack.
One of the other keys to the Bay's successful week was the twin swing bowlers of Brody Gilroy (Katikati College) and Henry Conway (Tauranga Boys'), and they ripped into their work to leave the Hamilton innings in tatters at 14-4 at stumps with one day to play.
Gilroy had taken 3/7 and the title was almost in the Bay's hands.
The last morning's play went the Bay's way with Gilroy claiming his fifth wicket as Hamilton slumped to 121/8.
But Hamilton's No9 batsman came out and smashed it all over the sun drenched Harry Barker Reserve to top score with 74 before finally Hamilton were bowled out for 166.
Bay cruised through to 57/2 in their second innings before the game was called off early and the boys, coaches and parents could celebrate.
Coach Peter Swann has been in charge of Bay teams at the tournament going back to 2000 and admits he was not confident before they left for a week of great weather and cricket conditions at the Harry Barker Reserve.
"I wasn't overly optimistic because there are some very young players, plus we had four players from Mount, Katikati and Otumoetai Colleges, and some of them don't play on grass or in men's competitions.
"So my expectations were not over-the-top.
"But we did have the likes of Tom MacRury and Alex Oakley who have been around the traps a while and know what they are doing, and it was great to see Tim Klyen step up after he worked so hard over the winter with Bay senior coach Ben Williams to get his pace up.
"Preparation was the key.
"Last year we came second last in seventh place with a very good team but Tauranga Boys' College had major Gillette Cup games and the problem we have each year is that the Gillette Cup finishes a few days before tournament.
"The boys came to Gisborne last year and they were absolutely stuffed.
"This year Boys' lost early to St Peter's from Cambridge, and they were down in the mouth, but Tom came to me and said let's give Gisborne a decent crack.
"We had two warm-up games and we had perfect preparation which does not always happen."
Swann says three years ago NZ Cricket changed the format to senior secondary schools so he says there is a different challenge now moulding boys into a team who have different experience and ability levels.
"Some of the guys now are playing for senior men's teams and I had players who have had appearances for Bay senior team, and then you might have a young fifth former, so you have to bring them all together. There are some huge age differences."
Swann is a special character when it comes to cricket coaching in that he has preferred to stay with the Tauranga Boys' College Second XI for 10 seasons.
He says his role is much more than a pure coaching one, as he has become more of a mentor to the boys over the years.
"It is a great age group but not a lot of people want, or know how to coach it. They are going through a lot in their lives.
"Sometimes I can have six or seven players from a split home and I can get phone calls about how their exams are not going well, or mums ring up about how her boy is not doing this or that.
"I think you can sometimes underestimate how much an influence you can be at a pretty vulnerable time so it is important to give them a positive experience.
"I said to the boys when we were walking around the boundary before the final against Hamilton that nobody can take this experience away from you.
"With sport you have to give them a positive experience."
ND Senior Secondary Cricket Tournament - two-day playoffs
BOP Coastland 200 (Tom MacRury 101) & 57/2 defeated Hamilton 166 (Brody Gilroy 5/33, Henry Conway 3/33)
Result: BOP Coastland won by first innings points
BOP Coastlands squad:
Tom MacRury (captain), Keaton Taylor, Henry Conway, Ben Musgrave, Gareth Wallace, Francois Potgieter, Alex Oakley, James Boyd (Tauranga Boys' College), Brody Gilroy (Katikati College), Jonty Rhodes (Mount Maunganui College), Julian Bradley and Tim Klyen (Otumoetai College).