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Beyond the Bay Oval Lights - Who holds the record for highest at Bay Oval

A good question for Bay of Plenty Cricket Clubs quiz nights in the future, could be, who holds the record for the highest score at Bay Oval.

While some will come up with BJ Watling’s double century for the Black Caps in the historic first test against England or the BD Schmulian double ton for Central Districts in October 2017 - the correct answer lies in a Hawke Cup Direct Challenge against Counties Manukau played at the Bay Oval in January 2017.

Yorkshire County batsman Alex Lees, who took the opportunity to get some English off-season playing experience in the 'Land of the Long White Cloud' set a myriad  of Bay of Plenty Cricket all-time batting records, in his  five games in the Blue and Gold strip during 2017.

Lees smashed 410 runs in his short time in the Bay of Plenty including two centuries. However it is the Hawke Cup Direct Challenge match, that will have his name in the BOPCA all-time record book as the highest score in 85 years of Bay of Plenty representative cricket.

Bay of Plenty, simply batted Counties Manukau out of the Hawke Cup match on Auckland Anniversary weekend (28-30 January 2017). The encounter was the Bay's first defence of the season, after lifting the symbol of NZC Minor Association cricket from Hawkes Bay the previous March.

More than a few eyebrows were raised, when Counties won the toss and asked the defending Hawke Cup titleholders to bat first, on a wicket that had produced an avalanche of runs during the season. The home team batted for just over two full days, in a clinical batting attack, that equaled the Bay of Plenty all-time highest total in 85 years.

Bay of Plenty were, 75 for one, when Alex Lees strode to the wicket. When the Bay number three was caught by Ash Vodnala, after 301 minutes at the crease, he had rewritten Bay of Plenty representative batting history. The Yorkshire professional blasted 223 runs that included 22 boundaries and one over the Bay Oval boundary picket fence.

Lees finished his turn at bat with the all-time highest score, going past Joe Carter’s 215 against Poverty Bay in 2014. He also took ownership of the Bay of Plenty highest Hawke Cup score, along with the most runs of a Bay player on debut. Another statistic unlikely to be repeated for a long time, was a century apiece to Lees and Donovan Deeble (108) who were both making their Hawke Cup debuts.

When Bay of Plenty were finally removed for 701, early on day three, they had equaled their all-time highest total when they relieved Hamilton on the Hawke Cup in 2013. Bay of Plenty Captain Peter Drysdale produced a gritty performance, which finished with 84 runs to his name, with Lees and the Bay skipper putting on a partnership of 197 for the second wicket.

Ben Musgrave (61) Sean Davey (53) Tony Gooding (46) batting at nine and keeper Tim Clarke (45) also spent long periods at the batting crease. Another big partnership came from Deeble and Davey who produced 157 runs for the sixth wicket.

Counties Manukau were quickly in trouble, losing their first wicket with just three runs on the board. The Counties innings was a short sharp affair, that came to an end when they were removed for 220, to hand Bay of Plenty a massive 481 run first innings advantage. 

Chris Atkinson, who was making his first Bay of Plenty first eleven outing of the season, did plenty of damage taking four wickets for 22 runs. Donovan Deeble backed up his batting exploits with two wickets while leggie Iman Singh also grabbed two bowling scalps. 

The match produced a myriad of Bay of Plenty representative cricket all-time batting records. Along with the highest Bay score Alex Lees posted the highest Bay of Plenty and BOPCA Hawke  Cup total on debut. In tandem with skipper Peter Drysdale, the pair established the third highest all-time partnership of 197.

Other Bay of Plenty Cricket milestones set in the match, were Donavan Deeble scoring a maiden Bay of Plenty century and Hawke Century on debut and Peter Drysdale reaching the 2500 run mark.

In the short time since the Bay Oval has been providing action and excitement to Bay of Plenty cricket fans, three players have broke through the magical (first-class) two hundred run mark. Alex Lees big score was the first, followed by Central Districts middle order master-blaster Bradley Schmulian, belting 203 against Northern Districts in October 2017.

A worldwide television audience witnessed the third double ton, when Black Cap batsman BJ Watling strode to the wicket in the historic first test match at the Bay Oval in November last year. New Zealand were in some trouble at 197/5 when the Northern Districts first-class player ground his bat. A marathon eleven hours at the crease, saw Watling bat England out of the encounter, with 205 runs off 473 balls which included twenty-four 4’s and a big heave over the picket fence.

Hawke Cup Direct Challenge @ Bay Oval Mount Maunganui 28/30 January 2017

Bay of Plenty 701 (AZ Lees 223, DM Deeble 108, RPO Drysdale 84, BS Musgrave 61, SB Davey 53, TG Goodin 46, TJ Clarke 45; BA Rhodes 3/97, VE Davies 2/135)

Counties Manukau 220 (BA Rhodes 65; CM Atkinson 4/22, D Deeble 2/39, I Singh 2/83)

Result: Bay of Plenty won by way of first innings points.

Bay of Plenty Team (Hawke Cup Direct Challenge appearances in brackets)

Peter Drysdale – Captain (8) Tony Goodin (7) Tom MacRury (6) Tim Clarke (6) Joe Carter (5) Sean Davey (5) Ben Musgrave (3) Chris Atkinson (0) Iman Singh (0) Gurwinder Singh (0) Donovan Deeble (0) Alex Lees (Bay of Plenty debut)

Coach: Graeme Aldridge        Assistant Coach: Charles Williams           Manager: Wayne Brill

BOPCA All-Time Representative Records Broken – Hawke Cup v Counties Manukau 2017


Alex Lees                                 223 runs v Counties Manukau 28/30 January 2017

Highest Score                           (Previous – 215, Joe Carter v Poverty Bay 2014)

Highest Hawke Cup Score       (Previous – 194, Brett Hampton v Hamilton 2013)

Highest Score on Debut            (Previous – 152no, JA Mitchell v Poverty Bay 2007)

Highest Hawke Cup Score on Debut (Previous 194 – BR Hampton v Hamilton 2013)

Century on Hawke Cup debut

Donovan Deeble                       108 runs v Counties Manukau 28/30 January 2017

BOPCA 2500 Runs + Peter Drysdale     (2437 + 84 v Counties Manukau 28/30 January = 2521)

Highest Bay of Plenty/ Bay of Plenty Hawke Cup Score - 701

Bay Oval Double Centuries

223      Alex Lees (Bay of Plenty)                              v Counties Manukau 28/30 January 2017

205      BJ Watling (New Zealand)                             v England 21/25 November 2019

203      Bradley Schmulian (Central Districts)           v Northern Districts 23/26 October 2017

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