The meteorological forecast is dire right now but the fiscal one from the annual Riverbend Cricket Camp is projected to inject a ray of sunshine in the Hawke's Bay economy this month.

That's the prognosis of camp co-ordinator Craig Findlay, who foresees money from the Riverbend Bible Church-hosted camp to be around the $5.5 million mark, mushrooming from $4 million in 2016 following a Sport HB feasibility study.

The bullish outlook from Findlay, who also is the HB Cricket chief executive, is reflected in the boost in the number of teams — 147 this year compared to 138 last year.

"Most of those families come here to spend at least five to seven days, with days pinned on either end of playing days," he says after the 21-day camp starts today.


He often finds retailers, moteliers, restaurateurs and petrol station owners remarking on the visitors' patronage.

"That's over 20 days or so and not just the weekends."

Akin to an adroit batsman, Findlay dug out any yorkers on inclement weather creating havoc today.

"It'll be gone by tomorrow morning. I've looked at the rain radar and it'll bucket down by early morning so it'll be gone and we'll be playing our games."

He says last summer the camp played all 357 games and is banking on a similar outcome this month.

"We expect the sun to be shining so we can play the 400-odd games in the next 20 or so days," he says.

As the camp marks its 38th year, Findlay says generations of family members of players descending here know what the Bay has in store so they plan extended holidays well after children have competed.

Hastings and Napier will benefit from the spinoff — 89 teams will be based at Riverbend, and Napier Boys' High School will accommodate 15 teams of older boys while the rest will book into motels or billet with families.


"One team has booked out an entire motel," he says with a laugh.

Wellington teams lead the charge from 40 last year to 50 this tourney.

"This year they've had a good summer so they haven't had a washout yet but, traditionally, they might have only three or four games coming into camp. This time they've probably had six or seven."

Findlay suspects the capital city boasts eight regular clubs who send four grades of teams from years 5 to 8 and, sometimes, two in each grade.

He dreads the day he'll have to turn away teams because of its increasing popularity.

An Australian club has contacted him already to enter teams next summer.

"They are going to do a tour of the North Island and had heard about our cricket and said they'd like to come to Hawke's Bay for four days of cricket camp, so that could be really cool."

The camp is not advertised but it has garnered good oil simply through word of mouth.

"We're close to capacity already," he says, welcoming teams but mindful it's a development camp for North Island youngsters, coaches and team managers.

He recalls welcoming a composite girls' team, Southern Shakers, from Canterbury in 2013 to break from tradition.

Former Black Caps seamer Shayne O'Connor's son, Thomas, was one of the farthest travelling players when the then 9-year-old joined a Cornwall Cricket Club team camp founder Ray Mettrick was coaching in 2014.

"You just don't know where you might get players from. For all you know, they could come from Sri Lanka or India," says Findlay.

2018 details

Players: 1764.
Coaches/managers: 294 will either start or continue mentoring or managing.
Games: 405.
Days: 21 for games.
Teams: 147, up from 135 (2017), 123 (2016) and 108 (2015).
Byes: None because five invitation XIs will be added to the 147 to avoid odd-number grades.


Hawke's Bay: 31 teams, 32 (2017), 31 (2016).
Wellington: 50 teams, 40 (2017), 38 (2016).
Northern Districts: 34 teams, 36 (2017), 30 (2016).
Central Districts: 21 teams, 18 (2017), 14 (2016).
Auckland: 11 teams, 9 (2017), 10 (2016).

Boys teams:

Year 4-5: Today to Sunday (21 teams).
Year 8 development: Sunday to Wednesday, Jan 10 (23).
Year 11-13: Sunday to Wednesday, Jan 10 (6).
Year 7a: Wednesday, Jan 10 to Saturday, Jan 13 (19).
Year 9-10: Sunday, Jan 14 to Wednesday, Jan 17 (12).
Year 7b: Sunday, Jan 14 to Wednesday Jan 17 (23).
Year 6a: Wednesday, Saturday 17 to Saturday, Jan 20 (14).
Year 6b: Sunday, Jan 21 to Wednesday, Jan 24 (21).
Year 8 North Island rep: Monday, Jan 22 to Thursday, Jan 25 (8).