The world class training facilities at Mount Maunganui's Bay Oval are attracting teams from all over New Zealand for their winter and spring training camps.
In the next three months six groups will make use of the benign climate for outdoor training on grass not available in most other parts of New Zealand.
BOP Cricket Oval turf manager Jared Carter has prepared a wicket block that is available for training use outside the regular cricket season. The practice faculties and the availability of a wicket block three months before the regular cricket season kicks off provides the ideal platform for teams to prepare for overseas ventures and early season first class cricket.
First to make use of the Bay Oval are the Otago Volts who are at the Mount from August 18-25. They are preparing to play in the Champions League in India during September and October as winners of the NZ Cricket HRV Cup competition. The Volts will play in the qualifying rounds to seek entry to the main competition of the cash-rich Twenty20 competition. With millions of dollars up for grabs, there are plenty of incentives for the Volts to hit the ground running in the early rounds.
Last year the Auckland Aces used the Bay Oval before leaving for the Champions League in South Africa. The Aces became the first New Zealand side to progress to the main draw from the qualifiers, with team management praising the Bay Oval for allowing much needed practice matches before leaving for the international Twenty20 tournament.
In September a number of North Island Black Caps will undertake early season outdoor training at the Bay Oval and the White Ferns will also be in town during September as they prepare for their tour to the West Indies. The Caribbean trip will see the White Ferns play three ODI's against the home side, before a Twenty20 Tri Series when England arrives in the West Indies. During the camp the White Ferns will play a One Day and a Twenty20 game against a local team coached by BOP Cricket's Tai Bridgeman-Raison.
The action cranks up at the Bay Oval in October, with the Northern Knights holding their annual spring camp followed by Wellington here for a five day camp from October 17. The Knights and Firebirds will then play three matches on the Bay Oval. The Auckland Aces are booked in for a three day camp over Labour Weekend.
Bay of Plenty Cricket Trust general manager Kelvin Jones says they have had the odd team training in the past two seasons but this year the popularity of the venue for pre-season work has exploded.
"It has gone from us going out there to try and get the teams to come here to them all wanting to come here," said Jones.
"There are only two major associations that aren't coming this year. It is important for us financially because we don't get fully funded by a long way for what we do, so it is a way for us to make things work financially as well."
Jones gives special thanks to the work done by turf manager Jared Carter.
"He is a big part of the reason these teams come here. I think he is the best in the country. I might be biased but what he does with the resources he has is just incredible. It is of a standard equal to anywhere in the country and he is doing it at a difficult time of the year weather-wise with resources far less than other places."
The other good news from Bay Oval is construction of the new pavilion is well underway and on time for completion in November.