Cricket: Jam and scones a sweetener for players

By Ben Guild

The annual migration to the northern European summer will soon be under way for some of Bay of Plenty's top cricketers.

The Bay of Plenty cricket side has swept all before it this season, winning the Brian Dunning trophy, the Fergus Hickey trophy and provincial cricket's greatest prize - the Hawke Cup.

Many of the players now turn their attention to gaining overseas club contracts, which often include free airfares and accommodation.

Bay of Plenty captain Pete Drysdale, whose brother Mahe claimed rowing gold at the 2012 London Olympics, is looking forward to chasing the English sun during another New Zealand winter.

Drysdale - who will play for the Spondon Cricket Club in Derbyshire, after formerly playing for Shelley in the Yorkshire league - will be joined in England by classy young Bay players Bharat Popli, Joe Carter and Sean Davey, while dashing all-rounder Brett Hampton and Te Puke's Mitch McCann will play in Holland.

"They do cricket properly," said Drysdale.

"They have cream teas with jam and scones and a proper cup of tea, which I always decline, much to their dislike.

"You get a crowd of 100-150 people drinking beers while watching you play and the grounds are unique.

"There's never a ground with two fields - there's only one and most of them have a little stone wall around them.

"A lot of us have put ourselves in positions where we can train through the day by not getting into full-time work, and finding ways to substitute low incomes and hanging in there by going to England, rather than getting into careers," said Drysdale.

"Those at the tail end of our degrees are taking this opportunity to have the time of our lives with cricket and give it a nudge to try to make it into a professional environment.

"It's getting so competitive that you almost have to decide to fully commit to it - it's like an investment."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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