Although the cricket season might be in the distant future, a group of local young men who have a real passion for the game are putting in the hard yards for off-season preparation.
In a new initiative, the Bay Indoor Centre in Mount Maunganui has been running a pre-season cricket academy for several groups of age-group players who want to hit the ground running at the start of the new season in October.
While the Bay Indoor Centre caters for indoor soccer, netball and cricket, along with the hugely popular slam-jump inflatables, Friday nights are firmly focused on cricket.
The cricket academy programme kicks off at 4pm and runs alongside an evening of indoor cricket competitions.
Bay Indoor Centre principals Steve Baldry and Andrew Templer established the academy in May 2017, to cater for players of all abilities from Year 4 to Year 13. In order to deliver a programme of high quality coaching, Steve and Andrew have engaged the services of two prominent local professional players.
Northern Knights all-rounders Jono Boult and Brett Hampton have made their marks in both ND and Bay of Plenty representative cricket in recent seasons. Jono has played over 100 games in the Knights uniform, while Brett Hampton is a danger man with both bat and ball.
Both have also been key players in the Bay of Plenty team that have dominated the NZ Cricket Hawke Cup competition since 2013. Both all-rounders have the unique record of a minor association century and a six-wicket bag to their name. Brett blasted what was then the Bay's highest score of 194 in a Hawke Cup match, while Jono has taken 125 wickets for the Bay of Plenty first XI.
The two ND players, are assisted in delivering the Academy program by two Tauranga Boys' College XI players in Marcel Collett and Craig Baldry. The pair have traversed the TBC cricket pathway to represent their school in inter-school first XI fixtures.
The four academy groups range from primary to senior secondary, and enjoy unparalleled facilities at the Bay Indoor Centre. Four training lanes with speed-gun radar are complemented by two bowling machines with automatic ball feeders. Video analysis is another tool the Centre utilizes to ensure academy participants receive top-notch coaching instruction.
Another string to the Bay Indoor Centre cricket coaching arsenal is the July School Holiday coaching clinics. Starting on July 10, the clinics provide specialist batting, bowling, wicket keeping and fielding and identification of key areas where further development would be advantageous.
To enrol in the Bay Indoor Centre holiday coaching clinics, or the next academy programme, call the Centre on 07 575 3751.