Youth will be to the fore on Wanganui's cricket pitches for the next three weeks with the Cricket Festival putting the stumps in yesterday.
Four teams in the Under 16 grade got proceedings under way with 40-over games as Wanganui took on Manawatu, while Auckland faced Kapiti.
The action will intensify next Tuesday with the girls Under 15/Under 17 tournaments at the Victoria and Springvale parks.
Competing will be the top Under 15 representative girls teams from the major associations like Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury, Northern Districts and Central Districts.
At the same time, the Under 17 teams of Wanganui, Manawatu and Taranaki will also be taking part.
Wanganui cricket officer Dilan Raj said the Under 15 teams will have their own tournament within the overall event, also involving the Under 17 sides.
Groups like Aero Cricket and Porter Hire had really come to the party to assist with pitch rollers and other gear as each girls' team will play six 30-over matches.
At two games a day, that will mean they will play 120 overs during the daylight.
"There's a truckload of parents coming all the girls are staying at Wanganui College, while the parents are staying at the hotels around town," said Raj.
He has no illusions about Wanganui U17's ability to foot it with the top representative teams.
"For us it's more of a development opportunity."
The girls' game locally is basically a social level at secondary school, from which those who are committed and have talent can be identified and assisted to go to the next step.
There will also be U11, U12, and U13 games over the next few weeks, with just under 1000 children estimated to be taking part. The festival receives support from the district council's Impact Fund.