Sports correspondant & historian
Sideline Sid got dressed up into his good gear last Friday night for the Bay of Plenty Cricket prize giving and launch of the BOP Cricket history book.
There was plenty of glitz and glamour on show at Mills Reef Winery, as the sold out crowd of 150 cricket people dressed to impress.
The special guest on the night was Black Caps coach John Wright, who took time our of his busy schedule to come to the Western Bay, to take part in the launch of Caught Wright Bowled Beard – The Story of Bay of Plenty Cricket 1931-2011.
In the many sports functions that Sideline Sid has gone to over the years - he has heard few better after dinner speakers. John regaled a captive audience with plenty of humour that brought a myriad of laughs to his entranced listeners.
He also spoke about the qualities he expects in the young men that play in the Black Cap uniform under his reign.
John Wright’s very first expectation is excellence in time keeping. He said if the players haven’t been engrained with the discipline of turning up when requested, they are unlikely to unable to have the other qualities, to become an outstanding player.
He also praised the Bay of Plenty Cricket pathway, which has seen four local Black Caps of Graeme Aldridge, Kane Williamson, Trent Boult and Daniel Flynn, play for the national team in the last season.
While John jested a little with Trent, G and Flynny, who were all at the dinner, he also sang their praises complimenting them on their determination, playing skills and commitment to the game.
Outstanding speakers such as John Wright always do their homework before the event. John got hold of the history book, and used the match reports to tell stories about the three games he played against Bay of Plenty in his playing days.
The last was a testy Hawke Cup elimination match, between the Bay and Counties, who had just changed names from the Franklin CA. The Bay entered the encounters as heavy favourites with New Zealand players Richard Collinge, Andy Roberts and Geoff Howarth in their ranks.
However, the record book shows that Counties with Wright in their side, were dismissed for 209 then bowled the odds on favourites out for 189, to take the honours courtesy of first innings points. What made the story even more special was that Bill Aldridge and Ian Mason, who played for the Bay in the match, were at the book launch.
The book launch also encompassed the Bay of Plenty Cricket annual prize giving, which recognised excellence on the field of play during the 2011/12 season.
Kane Williamson, who is currently playing English county cricket, won the BOPCA Player of the Year for the second successive season. The still relative youngster is now a permanent fixture in the Black Caps, and looks headed to become one of the best-known players in world cricket. In the last year Kane has developed his skills in all three forms of the game, as well as honing his talent as a more than useful spin bowler.
The Bay of Plenty Women’s Player of the Year has had a no less dramatic twelve months than Kane.
Anna Peterson is another example of a youngster, who has graduated from the BOP Cricket pathway, to play top class cricket.
A White Fern call-up in the series against England was the icing on the cake, for a young player who had a sterling season with the Northern Spirit.
The awards night also recognised a considerable number of young men (and women) who are poised to stamp their authority on the game in the Bay of Plenty in the coming years
Seeya at the Game