Welcome to Blast from the Past, which is an occasional column during the winter break in play, looking back at some of the happenings in Bay of Plenty Cricket over the years.
Over the decades, a number of international cricket teams have stopped off in the Bay of Plenty, during tours of the country. The first international cricket visit was nearly a century ago, when the touring Australian team played a Rotorua selection at the Government Gardens.
Up until the 1970's, Rotorua was the seat of Bay of Plenty local government, with the Sulphur City hosting the majority of international sporting teams visits to the province.
It wasn't until December 1961, that Tauranga hosted an international cricket game, when the MCC played a combined Bay of Plenty/Thames Valley XI at the Tauranga Domain. At the time of the MCC visit, Tauranga was far from the booming metropolis of today, with a population of less than twenty thousand residents.
The Bay of Plenty representatives in the combined side were Des Ferrow, Keith Dawkins, and Jim Croker along with WB Williams, N Butler and J Kinder. The best known of the Thames Valley contribution to the side was New Zealand batsmen Gren Alabaster.
While a number a number of the MCC stars were rested, there was experience in spades with the likes of Douglas Padgett, who would go on to play 500 first class fixtures before retirement finally beckoned.
The visitors won the toss and elected to bat first on the inner ground at the Tauranga Domain. Opener Willie Watson led the way with a sparkling 114 runs, which included eleven 4's in the MMC total of 297/6 declared in the two-day encounter. Coincidently, Watson was extremely talented sportsman also representing England at football.
Doug Padgett also made a more than useful contribution with 60 runs, while Bob Barber was given out for 34 by the uncommon decision of (batsmen) hit wicket. Thames Valley's Terry Shaw, was the best of the combined sides bowlers taking three wickets at a cost of 87 runs.
The combined eleven were bowled out for 147 with the fourth ball of their 59th over. Gren Alabaster was the best of the home sides batting attack with a hard fought 35 runs. David Allen would have long remembered his visit to the Tauranga Domain, grabbing a highly sought after six wicket haul as he returned 6/39.
The hosts were asked to follow on and were removed for 129 in their second turn at bat to hand the MCC an innings and 21 run victory. Bob Barber made up for his hit wicket dismissal, taking five wickets for 42 runs in the combined sides second turn at bat.
A few years after the MCC visit to the Western Bay of Plenty, a considerable number of the best cricket players in the world played at the Tauranga Domain, with a World Series Cricket (WSC) match.
The breakaway series put together by Kerry Packer, turned the traditional cricket world on its head until the two bodies came together. One significant change was the introduction of coloured uniforms, which are features of One-Day and Twenty 20 cricket matches of the modern day.
On 9 November 1978, the WSC Australian XI squared off with a WSC World XI. Never before had such a galaxy of world stars appeared in Tauranga. The WSC Australian team featured such household names as Dennis Lillee, Greg Chappell, Ian Chappell, David Hookes and Rod Marsh. Tony Greig led the WSC World X1 with stars such as Barry Richards, Lawrence Rowe, Michael Procter, John Snow and New Zealand’s own superstar Richard Hadlee.
For the record the World X1 batted first and were dismissed for 178 in the 46th over, with the Australian X1 all out for 94.
It wasn’t until 1998, that an international team re-appeared in the Western Bay of Plenty, when Pakistan A took on their New Zealand counterparts in two encounters at Blake Park, during their New Zealand tour.
This writer can remember being one of a handful of spectators on a windswept day, where a team of the countries aspiring professional players set out to impress the selectors in attendance. Looking back at the New Zealand A teams that played at Blake Park on the 9th and 10th December 1998, reads like a who’s who of New Zealand cricket during 1990’s and the new Millennium.
Matt Horne, Mark Bailey, Mathew Bell, Roger Twose, Chris Harris, Lou Vincent, our own home grown pair of brothers in Mathew and Robbie Hart along with Gavin Larsen, Simon Doull, Chris Drum and Shayne O’Connor - all had previously played or would go on to make their Black Cap debut in the future.
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