Few Bay of Plenty representative players have made a bigger comeback to Fergus Hickey cricket than Tai Bridgeman-Raison, who will captain the Bay team against Waikato Valley at the Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui, tomorrow.
The Te Puke premier captain cemented a berth in the Bay side in the early 2000s, with the last of his nine games coming in 2005. Travel and education studies saw Bridgeman-Raison drop out of the local cricket scene. However, a return to Baywide cricket a couple of seasons ago and the Te Puke skipper's leadership this season, has seen the dynamic batsman return to the form that earned Bay of Plenty selection nearly a decade ago.
With Bay of Plenty skipper Jono Boult again on Northern Knights duty, the Bay selectors have chosen a proven leader and a player in form with the bat. In the last Baywide game before the holiday break, the Te Puke master blaster smashed 107 not out to reinforce his outstanding early-season form.
Three Fergus Hickey Rosebowl victories in the past four years testify to the success of the Bay of Plenty Cricket pathway. The measured introduction of new talent into the ranks of experience brings together a quality pool of players.
Two promising bowlers will make their Bay of Plenty debut in the one-day encounter against Waikato Valley.
Te Puke's Jeremy Bates gives the team extra options with his left arm medium pace. Campbell Thomas is also a quality medium pacer. Both youngsters were members of the Bay Development side that easily dispatched their Waikato Valley counterparts in a Basil McBurney representative fixture in November.
Experience in spades is provided with the selection of Northern Knights pace bowler Graeme Aldridge. The ND top wicket-taker, who has played 43 games for the Bay interspersed with his Knights commitments, will add an extra dimension to the Bay bowling attack.
Bay of Plenty squad: Tai Bridgeman-Raison (captain), Peter Drysdale, Joe Carter, Brett Hampton, Bharat Popli, Scott Steward, Alex Yates, Tim Clarke, Jeremy Bates, Tony Goodin, Dale Swan, Campbell Thomas, Graeme Aldridge (one to be omitted).