The highly anticipated Cricket Express Lake Taupō Spring Invitational is to make a triumphant return this October as eight sides from around the North Island collide at Owen Delany Park for a weekend of action-packed T20 cricket.
Generation Homes Lake Taupō Cricket Club announced the tournament will go ahead this year, with Cricket Express, a big player in the sports retail sector, putting its name behind the tournament.
Lake Taupō Cricket Club committee member Blaine Inch said after last year's success, the club was "looking to promote the game in a positive manner by putting on a spectacle of cricket, as well as build longstanding relationships with local businesses and cricket clubs from other associations that we normally don't get the opportunity to meet".
After the inaugural four-team tournament at Owen Delany Park last September, this year's Cup will be bigger and better than ever. Cricket Express national retail manager Jarrod Wrigley said the company is very excited to be partnering with the cricket club as a Platinum Sponsor for the tournament.
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"As avid supporters of grassroots cricket, we thank everyone involved and appreciate all of the time and effort that has been put into creating and building such a great tournament."
This year, clubs from the Hawke's Bay, Bay of Plenty, New Plymouth, Hamilton and Counties Manukau are all confirmed to attend, including last year's champions Taradale Cricket Club, who were first to accept the invitation to return.
Taradale captain Luke Kenworthy said Taradale were really looking forward to returning again this year.
"After last year's experience, it's something that has been in the works and on the calendar. T20 cricket is a great opportunity to get everyone into the season and it's a format we play a lot of in Hawke's Bay. A fun trip to Taupō is an awesome way to start the season and we're hoping to put out another good performance this year."
Lake Taupō Cricket Club is looking to also create exposure for players and local businesses that help sponsor the weekend spectacle.
"Top-level cricket tournaments we host here in Taupō are usually held during the week, which is not ideal for spectators or sponsors," says Inch. "This carnival type weekend of cricket will have 12 games of premier grade action, so it's an ideal spectacle for aspiring young Taupō cricketers.
"Lake Taupō Cricket Club have put a large emphasis on the pathway we have set for the youth cricketers coming through the junior ranks as it's the whole reason we formed this club four years ago. After gaining promotion to the Baywide Premier Grade in 2017, we can now give the talented kids of this town a pathway through to representative cricket. Not only can we do that by our involvement in coaching Taupō's youth cricketers, but also through initiatives like this where we can offer these youngsters the unique opportunity to be involved in a top-level tournament."