Cricket: Te Puke: 125 not out and still going strong

Past and present Black Caps will converge on Te Puke over the Easter break to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Te Puke Cricket Club.

It is sure to be a family affair with brothers Matthew and Robbie Hart confirmed to attend. Former international Lance Cairns, who together with son Chris Cairns once evenly shared all 10 available wickets in an innings against Greerton, will also be on hand along with current Black Caps star and club ambassador Kane Williamson.

The festivities, scheduled for Saturday, March 30, include matches from 8.30am between juniors, twilight players and past and present selections, culminating in a function and club prize-giving at Molly O'Connor's, complete with a question-and-answer session under the direction of former player Neil Howard.

Premier side manager Paul Dwight said it was sure to be a great occasion filled with tales - including stories of the younger Cairns hitting towering sixes over the conifers lining Te Puke domain - with thanks likely to be shown to tireless workers such as Gary Hart and long-time secretary Pam Tod.

The club was constituted in September, 1887, although the first recorded game played in Te Puke took place three years prior - a full 40 years after New Zealand's first recorded fixture between Nelson and the surveyors of the New Zealand Land Company in 1844.

Things have changed somewhat since those heady beginnings.

Subscription no longer costs five shillings, runs are no longer scored with notches, while the days of tall hats, cravats and trousers tight around the ankles have long passed.

The club's senior side is thriving this year after some indifferent results in the past few seasons.

The influence of Bay of Plenty player/coach Ben Williams and coach Pete Swan, coupled with a budding generation of young players led by Mitch McCann and captain Tai Bridgeman-Raison, saw the side narrowly miss claiming the Baywide crown before Christmas thanks to Greerton stumbling badly on the final weekend against East Bay United.

Tickets to the function are limited to 180 and can be purchased through the club.


- Bay of Plenty Times

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