The Bay of Plenty Cricket Baywide Cup premier competition gets under way tomorrow and those new to the top level competition - Rotorua's Geyser City Cricket start their campaign against depending title holders Eves Realty Greerton in the opening round. Kristin Macfarlane reports.
Geyser City Cricket Club are making the step up to Baywide premier cricket for the first time since being established some three decades ago.
Eves Realty Greerton steamrollered their way to victory in last years Baywide Cup, reaching the title decider with an unbeaten record, before dispatching Element IMF Cadets to win the Baywide trophy for the third occasion.
Geyser City Cricket Club may face a tough opening match in their Baywide premier cricket competition debut this weekend but their focus is clear - to be competitive.
The Rotorua team make the step up to Baywide premier cricket tomorrow, , their first time in the competition since the club's inception nearly 30 years ago, and will face defending title holders Greerton in the opening round.
Greerton steamrollered their way to victory in last year's Baywide Cup, reaching the title decider with an unbeaten record, before dispatching Element IMF Cadets to win the Baywide trophy for the third occasion.
Cadets, who entered the 2018 title decider as the defending Baywide Cup champions, batted first on a wicket that looked to have plenty of assistance for the bowlers. The Tauranga Domain-based side lost their first three wickets with just 25 runs on the board, before going on to set Greerton 168 for victory.
Geyser Cricket Club president Kane Vanner says the team are feeling "nervous and excited" for their premier debut and with it being on home ground at Smallbone Park on Saturday, he's hoping for a good turnout of supporters.
"It's a big deal for the club," Vanner said.
Vanner said their entry into the top level competition was on trial, with the team having to prove they could stack up against others in the grade. While there was no doubt coming up against the defending champions would be a tough gig, he said they were under no illusions that any team would be any easier.
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"I think any of these teams in that grade are a big challenge. We see every game as going to be tough.
"We still have to prove our competitiveness.
"There's not an expectation that we have to go out and win every game, they want to see we are competitive."
Geyser City's move into premier level matches, Vanner said, was to create a pathway for their club members and said their game plan this weekend was to be do their best.
"I think my own expectation is that the guys go out there and they give it everything they've got."
Meanwhile, other match ups include Cadets hosting New World Te Puke at Mitchell Park.
Cadets have experience in spades in skipper Jono Boult, who has a century of Northern Knights appearances and 2440 runs and 155 Bay of Plenty representative wickets,to give his side an edge that few premier sides in the country can call on.
Hard hitting Te Puke captain Stephen Crossan warmed up for this years Baywide competition when he smashed a century at the inaugural Lake Taupō Spring T20 Cup in Taupō last weekend.
Crossan, blasted the highest score of the weekend tournament, smacking 102 from the 65 balls he faced against Karaka from Counties Manukau. The Bay of Plenty top-order master blaster hammered 11 fours and 5 sixes in his time at the crease at Owen Delany Park.
The use of artificial wickets in the opening round of the Baywide Cup sees Waipuna Park make a rare appearance as a Baywide cricket venue, where Bond and Co Tauranga Boys' College will host Generation Homes Lake Taupō. Indications received are that both teams have bolstered their playing strength this season and they could both trouble the more fancied contenders, during the three Baywide competitions.
Eight-time Baywide Champion of Champions Carrus Mount Maunganui begin their Baywide season with a tough assignment, when Bayleys Central Indians pay a visit to Blake Park on Saturday.
The Rotorua combined side were in sterling form in the second half of last season with a third place finish in the Baywide Twenty 20 competition and finishing runners-up to Cadets in the Williams Cup. However Mount Maunganui at home are never an easy encounter.
BOPCA Baywide Cup Round One Draw - October 5:
Tauranga Boys' College v Lake Taupō, Waipuna2.
Mount Maunganui v Central Indians, Blake3.
Geyser City Cricket v Greerton, Smallbone Park.
Cadets v Te Puke, Mitchell Park.