Cricket entries pushing the boundaries
CRICKET There will be new Te Puke teams among the record numbers playing Western Bay of Plenty cricket this season. The 2021/22 Western Bay of Plenty Cricket season starts on Saturday with a record 27 teams taking part in the Classic Builders Reserve and B Grade competitions. Te Puke’s second squad will take its place in the reserve grade competition with Te Puke fielding Green and Gold teams drawing on the district’s Indian community in B grade. There has been a 70 per cent increase in senior team numbers since the amalgamation of local cricket sub-associations to form the Western Bay of Plenty Cricket Association a decade ago. Western Bay of Plenty Cricket secondary school and junior numbers have experienced similar growth. Senior entries will see 11 teams fight out the Reserve Grade competition trophies, while a record 16 B Grades sides will be split into two pools of eight to qualify for the championship and plate title deciders. The Reserve Grade will see a lot of familiar faces with 10 of last season’s sides backing up. Katikati Cricket Club, who can trace their origins back to the 19th century, have returned to Reserve Grade cricket and will play their home games on the new grass wicket at Moore Park. Te Puke will provide two of the four new B grade sides while also new are the Bay Blasters and Katikati Singh XI. Sikh Sports (now known as United Indians) won last season’s Reserve Grade championship final when their opponents were disqualified for breaching a match-day rule. They also picked up the first round trophy to take the Western Bay Reserve Grade top billing. The B Grade championship final between the Hawks 2nd XI and Pa¯pa¯moa Wanderers was dominated by a blistering bowling attack in the second innings of the game. Hawks batted first and were removed for what looked to be a modest 120 runs. Harry Singh top scored with a hard fought 42, while Wanderers’ Chris Uden and Sarn Lee grabbed three wickets apiece. Devastation ruled the second turn at bat with Wanderers bundled out for 39. The Pa¯pa¯moa side’s top score of 11 told the tale of the Hawks’ bowlers domination. Rana Virk returned the remarkable bowling figures of four wickets at a cost of just 4 runs, with Gopi Singh also grabbing a four-wicket bag. Two quick fire T20 competitions spread over the first two weekends of the new season will open hostilities. Ten Reserve Grade contenders will gather at the Gordon Spratt Reserve on Saturday to go into battle in the Classic Builders T20 title race. United Indians will shake off their cobwebs in pursuit of further Western Bay silverware, when they square off with Katikati in pool two. Other T20 round one encounters see R&A Sangha meet Tauranga Boys’ College, Pa¯pa¯moa taking on Cadets, Te Puke v Hawks, while Mount Maunganui and Greerton wait for late afternoon action after sitting out the first round bye. Classic Builders B Grade T20 contenders will meet at Fergusson and Waipuna Parks to open their season. Pool One at Fergusson Park matches Mount Maunganui against Bay Blasters and Papaomas taking on Hawks, with Albion drawing the first round bye. Waipuna Park will host Katikati Singh XI v Cadets, Te Puke v Tauranga Boys’ College, with R&A Sangha Second XI having the first-up bye.