|Sports correspondent & historian
Six young Bay of Plenty Cricket players have been given an opportunity that could propel them to higher honours in the game.
Harry Burns, Sam Clode, Sebastian Heath, Gus Tustin, Darcy Collet and Jake Riley have earned selection for the ND Under 19 team, currently playing at the NZC National age-group tournament in Canterbury.
There is a bigger prize on offer than just the national crown, with the NZC website stating - “The National selectors will be keeping a keen eye on the (Lincoln) proceedings, with a New Zealand Under 19 team to be named for the next ICC Men's Under 19 World Cup, coming up in South Africa from 13th January 2024”.
The ICC Under 19 Men's Cricket World Cup has become a springboard to international cricket stardom for a number of graduates from the international age-group tournament.
In 2018, Western Bay of Plenty cricket fans got a birdseye view of the world's emerging cricket talent, when the Bay Oval hosted seven ICC Under 19 Men's CWC games, including India thumping Australia in the title decider.
Some of today’s stars, to showcase their talent at the Bay Oval in 2018, were India opener Shubman Gill and current Black Caps Rachin Ravinder and Finn Allen.
Finn Allen wrote himself a small piece of Bay Oval history with a century against the West Indies in the opening game of the tournament.
In a view of the future, he hammered 115 from a neat one-hundred balls, including fifteen 4s and two 6s.
The six Bay of Plenty young men currently representing Northern Districts can draw plenty of motivation from a select group of Bay players who have represented our country at the Under 19 Men's Cricket World Cup.
Daniel Flynn was the first Bay of Plenty player selected for an Under 19 CWC tournament, with the honour coming in 2004. Flynn would go on to play 49 games for the Black Caps, including 24 tests.
Black Cap Captain Kane Williamson and superstar bowler Trent Boult, who need little introduction, were the next two Under 19 CWC representatives from the Bay in 2008.
Long serving Northern Districts top order batsman, Joe Carter, and Sean Davey, who has earned Canterbury professional cricket honours, went to the Under 19 CWC tournament in 2012.
The last two BOP players to compete in the pinnacle age-group cricket event were Ben Pomare and Fergus Lellman. Both were selected for the New Zealand squad that participated at the 2020 Under 19 CWC in South Africa.
Fergus Lellman made a spectacular entrance in representing New Zealand in international age-group cricket, with 431 runs and a best of 116 not out, from 12 matches.
Ben Pomare, who keeps wickets behind the stumps, posted a highest score of 40 in the international age-group arena.
Both young men have gone on to make their debuts in the Northern Districts professional ranks in the last two seasons.
It will be interesting to see if any of the six Bay of Plenty players in the current ND Under 19 side can make the big step up to earn selection to travel to South Africa in 2024.