Cricket: Marauding Knights ready for fireworks

The hurly burly of HRV Twenty20 cricket is about to take the Bay Oval at Blake Park, Mount Maunganui, by storm in early January, when some of the best cricketers in the country come to town with two HRV Cup games being staged this week.

In less than a decade, Twenty20 cricket has built a huge fan base both at the games and on television.

The sight of wickets being ripped out of the ground and balls blasted over the boundary has captivated cricket fans worldwide.

Tomorrow on New Year's Day, the Northern Knights will square off against the Wellington Firebirds, with the Auckland Aces paying a visit on Sunday 6th January.

While there is likely to be a galaxy of cricket stars on show, few will attract more attention than long serving Northern Districts and Bay of Plenty bowler Graeme Aldridge.

A graduate of Otumoetai College and a loyal Mount Maunganui club man, Aldridge went through the Bay of Plenty cricket age group pathway, before making an auspicious debut for the Bay of Plenty senior men's team on the 15th March 1997.

The occasion was Bay of Plenty's Hawke Cup defence against Central Otago, where Aldridge, who was selected as a bowler, smashed 52 runs batting at number nine in the batting line-up. His solid knock at the tail helped the Bay to their highest ever score of 553/9.

Selection for the Northern Knights followed in the 1998/99 season, where he has become a Knights first pick. In the last couple of weeks, Aldridge has smashed the long standing Knights record for most wickets of 232 set by Cliff Dickeson in 1987.

He has always been a loyal Bay of Plenty team man and has played 43 games in the blue and gold colours, which have been interspersed with his ND commitments.

Bay of Plenty has had a big influence in the Northern Knights recently In addition to Aldridge, current Black Caps Daniel Flynn, Trent Boult and Kane Williamson have become permanent Northern Knights selections, and new Bay rep and Black Cap Corey Anderson can be added to that list.

Several other Bay players have worn the Northern Knights uniform and could be on show at the Bay Oval HRV Cup matches. Bay skipper Jono Boult has played a number of games for the Knights in recent seasons, with Brett Hampton and Tony Goodin have broken into the team recently.

HRV Cup (T20) @ Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui

1 January, Northern Knights v Wellington Firebirds

6 January, Northern Knights v Auckland Aces.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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