A new competition and two Hibiscus Coast Cricket Club teams will give cricket in Rodney a boost this season.
A Saturday hard ball tournament will be introduced, on top of the usual Friday night social sessions, to attract juniors.
Rodney Cricket chair Kevin Forde is excited about the prospect of developing a strong junior competition.
“The Saturday tournament is all about creating a framework for those juniors who want to play some competitive cricket and transition into a senior team later,” Kevin says.
“If we can get teams from Years 4 to 13, we will have a complete pathway from junior to premier cricket in place.”
So far, clubs from Warkworth, Kaipara Flats and the Rams at Whangateau have expressed interest in fielding teams.
“We are still gauging the interest for this tournament, but hopefully all the clubs get on board and having Hibiscus Coast enter a team will be a great addition.”
The new competition will be split into three age groups – Year 4, Years 5-8 and Years 9-13.
Matches will be in a shortened format with 24 overs and eight players on each team.
“We’re hoping that less travel and a short format will appeal to parents.”
Hibiscus will enter one team in the Year 4 section and one in the senior competition.
Club manager Tony Naidu says travel is a big factor behind the move.
“The Rodney competition requires less travel than playing in Auckland-wide tournaments,” Tony says.
“Ex-Black Cap Martin Snedden helped facilitate the move through the work he is doing to make cricket more accessible nationwide.”
Tony says entering the Rodney junior comp will be a pilot for the club.
“If parents are happy with the competition we will look to inject junior sides into all of the grades in the future.”
Meanwhile, the addition of a men’s side will take the senior league up to eight teams this season – three more than in the 2014/15 season.
“Eight teams will mean that no team has a bye round during the season,” Kevin says.
Tony says he isn’t sure how the Hibiscus team will fair in the Rodney competition as they are unfamiliar with their new opponents.
“Our focus has been to work on an understanding of the game followed by fitness and then refining skills, but at the end of the day the team wants to just enjoy its cricket,” he says.
The team lost its opening round match to Warkworth last month by 86 runs.
Kevin says the growth in the sport will mean the club will need to look at employing a full-time manager.
At a school level, Rodney Cricket has taken on Brendon Bracewell this year, father to Black Cap Douglas Bracewell. He will work with local primary schools to deliver a coaching programme coaching delivering basic cricket skills.