Bay cricket up there with the best

By: Blogger

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian
www.sunlive.co.nz

Bay of Plenty Cricket is entitled to be ranked the number one minor association in the country in recent years.

Winning the Hawke Cup, which is the symbol of NZ Cricket minor association supremacy on two occasions (2013 and 2016) and successfully defending the time-honoured cricket prize eight times, has produced a myriad of Bay of Plenty Cricket milestones. 

Since the first Bay of Plenty representative cricket side played South Auckland at Hamilton in 1932, some 537 Players have worn the provinces representative uniform.

The numerous successes’ of the Bay of Plenty teams, has been built upon the pride of wearing the Blue and Gold colours of our province and a passion for the game where no reward is expected. 

One such player with Bay of Plenty pride and passion in spades finished a distinguished minor association representative career at the Tauranga Domain on Sunday afternoon.

Tauranga Boys' College teacher Tim Clarke is entitled to look back at his time in the Bay of Plenty representative ranks with a glow of satisfaction. 

Always the first pick to keep wickets since he made his debut at the ND one-day tournament in Taupo during November 2010, only injury kept the Bay of Plenty gloveman on the sideline. 

Clarke, who has retired from representative cricket to spend more time with his young family, has complied plenty of milestones on his representative cricket journey.

Seventy-seven games see’s Tim sit in fifth place on the Bay of Plenty all-time appearance list -  behind Derek Beard (105) Mike Wright (102) current Bay skipper Peter Drysdale (80) and Grant Manners (79).

The Bay keeper became a very accomplished middle order batsman and 25 runs in the Bay's second dig against Waikato Valley on Sunday, took his career total past the 1500 run mark, with a highest score of 110 against Poverty Bay. 

Tim Clarke, who earned Bay of Plenty player number 500 when he began his sterling career eight years ago, is typical of the 537 players who have worn the Bay of Plenty cricket uniform with pride, humility and little fanfare. 

Just how far the Bay Oval has come in a short time was shown last Wednesday when the Black Caps took on England in the second ODI of the five match series.

Five ODI’s, six International Twenty 20’s and nine Women’s Internationals have taken place on the Bay Oval since 2014. 

The first sod was turned on March 1 2005, with the vision of turning a former wasteland at Blake Park, into an international cricket ground.

The near full house at the day/nighter and the three other international games this season, is testament to the vision of the local cricket community - who never wavered from their dream of creating an international cricket venue at Mount Maunganui. 

This writer was sitting with a small group of England fans on tour, who reckoned that the Bay Oval ranked up with the best County grounds in England at locations such as Cheltenham and Scarborough – high praise indeed. 

We should be grateful, that the Western Bay of Plenty community worked together to provide a great ground and pavilion and light the venue, so we can see the best players in the world each summer at Blake Park.