In the Media
Beyond the Bay Oval Lights - Looking back at our first ODI
Many Bay Oval cricket fans would be surprised to learn that the first ODI played at the Mount Maunganui international venue, wasn't played between any of the super-star laden sides that have visited the Western Bay of Plenty in the last decade - with that honour going to Canada and the Netherlands, who played off for seventh place in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers at the Bay Oval in January 2014.
The Blake Park cricket venue played hosted to eleven games in the World Cup qualifiers, with two spots in the 2015 Cricket World Cup on the line, for the ten teams that had traversed the world to roll the dice in the 2014 CWCQ.
While all twelve ICC full members of Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies and Zimbabwe, are automatic Cricket World Cup entries, the CWCQ qualifying competitions are the carrot for the 92 ICC associate nations.
The two Bay Oval two wickets hosted countries where cricket is very much a minority sport, such as Uganda, Papua New Guinea and Nepal, along with Kenya, Canada, Namibia and the Netherlands.
United Arab Emirates (UAE), who finished second to Scotland in the tournament decider with both booking berths in the 2015 CWC, stopped off at the Bay Oval to play Uganda in one of the tournament warm-up encounters.
The 2014 Cricket World Cup Qualifiers remains a journalistic highlight for this writer. While the crowds were sparse, in spite of free entry, the rich vein of answers from team officials and players to the many questions, greatly contributed to the daily tournament journal.
Uganda who finished last in the tournament were a shining beacon of cricket overcoming impossible odds to continue to play the great game. The well documented destruction of Ugandan by dictator Idi Amin in the 1970's, decimated the game of cricket in the country.
The way back for Ugandan cricket, was the schools development program first developed within four schools in 1939. The programme was formally expanded when it was realized, that with the expulsion of Asians, a solid programme in schools had to be consolidated to again progress and re-grow the game in Uganda.
The biggest disappointment at the tournament was that of second seed the Netherlands, who came to Mount Maunganui full of expectations after previously qualifying for the Cricket World Cup. Two losses inflicted by Namibia and Kenya, relegated the Dutch to a playoff for seventh place against Canada.
In recent decades a number of ICC Associate nations have been given ODI status. Both Canada and the Netherlands held the necessary ODI validation before their playoff game, with the Bay Oval being granted temporary ODI status for the clash.
Pride and revenge was on the agenda of the Dutch team, after they were beaten by the Canucks by 39 runs, in a tournament warm-up match at the Bay Oval.
Canada won the toss and elected to bat and made a solid start before losing Nitish Kumar for 22, to have 55 runs on the board. Raza-ur-Reham anchored his side’s innings with a classy 88, with Canada at 187/7 with five overs remaining in their turn at bat. Two run-outs late in the Canadian innings took its toll as they were removed for 210. Michael Rippon bowled with real enthusiasm to grab four Canadian wickets at a cost of 37 runs.
The Netherlands, were determined to erase the memories of their failure to progress to the Super Six in style and produced a batting blitzkrieg, to cruise to an eight wicket win in the 36th over. An opening partnership between Eric Szwarczynski and Stephan Myburgh (36) produced 81 runs, with Szwarczynski taking his side to victory with an unbeaten 75. Skipper Peter Borren was there at the end blasting an undefeated 61 from just 34 balls.
The question of who was the first ODI batsmen to belt at century on the Bay Oval grounds is another that will have cricket fans somewhat puzzled in the future. The answer lies with Papua New Guinea opening batsman Lega Siaki, who was determined to have an early finish against Namibia, taking to the opposition bowling from the opening ball.
Siaki showed no respect for the vaunted Namibian bowling attack and flayed them all around the top ground at the Bay Oval. Siaki carried his bat and finished with an unbeaten 112 of just 82 balls, which included nine 4’s and a massive seven 6’s, to write his name into the Bay Oval record books with the first ODI century at the Mount Maunganui ground.