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Friday, February 7, 2014

SportsTalk Sporting Leaders in the Bay of Plenty

What a difference a few wins make. It’s fantastic to see our national side back in the spotlight, this time for the right reasons. With the nudge from a particular brewer, cricket fans have enjoyed some of the best live Black Caps performances in recent years. Ben Guild,  sports reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times, commented in an article earlier this week about the contribution Bay of Plenty makes to the New Zealand and First-Class sides with the likes of Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Corey Anderson, Jono Boult, Graeme Aldridge, Daniel Flynn and more recently Bharat Popli and Tony Goodin.

Locally we do produce good cricketers, we always have, and there is no magic formula behind any success we see currently or from the past.  While there are certainly ebb’s and flows in our game within schools, clubs and geography, the success and talent of any player is largely dependent on the quality of cricket as a whole in our region  – and not necessarily the quality of particular players. Good competitions, lots of teams, and loads of cricket practice with mates all contribute the most to fostering talent. Yet far more emphasis is made these days about how we foster individual talent in the modern age of cricket.

Don’t get me wrong, our role is to ensure pathways are readily available for cricket talent, and development opportunities made available. But not every player will go on to earn a million dollar contract in the IPL. We see technically talented kids give up cricket in a blink if they don’t make a rep team or development programme.  

The allure of professional cricket can be tantalising. You don’t have to be a super athlete, and relative to other big pay careers like golf, tennis or basketball, you don’t have to be the 1 in 50,000 who actually makes it. There’s a good chance that by regional rep level – you’ll have a 1 in 10 chance of making a respectable living playing cricket.

But cricket is a foremost a team sport – and needs to be driven at this very fundamental level to continue to see successful cricketers emerge from the Bay. It is not above create elite academies, or limiting or isolating participation for players. We’ve seen talent emerge equally from players following the rep progression pathways to other players who go from ordinary at 16 – to extraordinary at 17.  If we focus on the making the local cricket successful and accessible to kids, with formats to suit their lifestyles, with opportunities for development along the way, in doing so, we will continue to see plenty of Black Caps emerge from the Bay in the future.

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