The final Bay of Plenty Hawke Cup defence of the season starts today at Rotorua's Smallbone Park and will bring the curtain down on what is arguably the best representative season in the 81-year history of Bay of Plenty Cricket.
The two ND trophies - the Brian Dunning trophy and the Fergus Hickey Rosebowl - are already safely locked away in the Bay of Plenty trophy cabinet. This weekend's Hawke Cup challengers South Canterbury are an unknown quantity and the Bay go into the three-day encounter after three successful Hawke Cup defences.
After snatching the Hawke Cup from Hamilton, the Bay side has mounted two successful defences against Manawatu and Canterbury Country. The Manawatu win showed the steely resolve within the team, when they came back to grab an outright win after conceding first innings points.
The Bay's outstanding success in the current season has been built upon a number of outstanding individual performances. A number of the Bay players have raced up the Bay of Plenty Hawke Cup honours board in just three matches.
Brett Hampton and Joe Carter smashed Simon Winter's highest Hawke Cup score of 181 when the Bay wrested the Cup from Hamilton. Carter set the new mark making 187 but that lasted two hours before Hampton posted 194.
Hampton and Carter have moved into fourth and fifth place on the most Hawke Cup runs behind Bay legends Derek Beard (542) Mike Wright (407) and New Zealand representative Andy Roberts (378). The real significance is the leading trio played more Hawke Cup games than Carter and Hampton.
Bay of Plenty quick bowler Tony Goodin is another to progress up the honours board. His Hawke Cup wickets tally is 14, behind Beard (21) and John Derrick (17) - and ahead of cricket legend Lance Cairns (12).
While Tony Goodin is making no race of the season wickets tally, with 32 just one behind Jono Boult's record set last season of 33 wickets, there is a real battle for the most runs in the 2012/13 representative season. Carter on 715 runs leads Bharat Popli with 689 runs, with the bragging rights to the Bays most runs this season likely to go down to the wire.
Hawke Cup - Bay of Plenty v South Canterbury 8-10 March, Smallbone Park, Rotorua - 10.30am start each day. Live ball-by-ball scoring available on www.ndcricket.co.nz.
Bay of Plenty: Peter Drysdale (c), Joe Carter, Bharat Popli, Tom MacRury, Brett Hampton, Scott Steward, Mitch McCann, Tim Clarke, Sean Davey, Tony Goodin, Tommy Clout, Dale Swan.