Great cricket news for the Bay!
Sports correspondent & historian
Last week brought the fantastic news for Bay of Plenty cricket fans, that the Bay Oval at Mount Maunganui would be one of seven venues to host matches in the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup, to be played in New Zealand early next year.
Staged every two years, the Age-Group World Cup will bring together the best rising stars from throughout the globe to our country, to find the twelfth Under 19 Cricket World Cup champions.
The Under 19 World Cup pits all the test playing nations with a number of emerging cricket playing countries.
The last U19 World tournament saw cricket minnows such Fiji, Canada, Nepal and Namibia in action along with the heavyweights of world cricket.
Cobham Oval in Whangarei will join Queenstown and four grounds in Canterbury and, along with the Bay of Plenty Cricket headquarters, will host the 48 games required to find the new Under 18 Cricket World champions during January and February 2018.
This is the third time that New Zealand has hosted the hotbed of youth cricket competition.
The tournament first came the Land of the Long White Cloud in 2002, before returning in 2010.
The progress of the Bay Oval to an international cricket ground can be measured against the timeline of the two previous tournaments held in New Zealand.
In 2002, the Blake Park international ground was just a wasteland with the first sod of development not turned until March 2005.
During the 2010 Under 19 World Cup, the ground was utilised as a training base for the West Indies side, however, the (then) lack of a pavilion curtailed any chance of hosting games.
Fast forward to today and the Bay Oval is a world class international venue that has hosted the likes of South Africa, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, in ODI action in the last three seasons.
Bay of Plenty has also produced several world class players, that took some of their formative steps to stardom at previous Under 19 Cricket World Cups.
Daniel Flynn was the first to make the headlines and was selected for New Zealand at the 2004 tournament.
Current Black Cap stars in skipper Kane Williamson and Trent Boult made their New Zealand Under 19 World Cup entrance in 2008.
Fellow Black Cap Corey Anderson, who now resides in the Western Bay, also earned selection in 2008 from his Canterbury base. All three have gone on to stardom in the current World game.
Two years later, Doug Bracewell who played Saturday morning junior cricket in Tauranga, participated in the 2010 World Cup held in New Zealand.
Joe Carter, who currently plays professional cricket for Northern Districts, became the fourth Bay Plenty registered cricketer to earn a New Zealand Under 19 World Cup berth in Queensland, Australia, during 2012.
Looking back over the 12 Kiwi sides that have played in the Age-Group Cricket World Cup, shows a mixture of some of the best to wear the Black Cap uniform - and other players who have been little heard of since in cricket circles.
The fascination for this long-time cricket fan is to be able to watch some super-stars of the future in action at the Bay Oval early next year.