Waves of senior and junior cricket players will surface in Gisborne on Sunday as the summer game cranks up.
The first senior match of the season starts at Nelson Park at midday when OBR take on High School Old Boys in the Doleman Cup 40-overs competition.
A muster of junior players up to Year 10 is scheduled to begin at Harry Barker Reserve an hour later.
Two Hope Cup 30-over matches will get under way at Nelson Park at 2pm.
The Doleman Cup will be a three-team competition this year, featuring Landmark Homes OBR, Bollywood Stars High School Old Boys and Horouta.
OBR are the Doleman Cup champions, as well as champions of the DJ Barry Cup in which the senior sides play a longer format of the sport.
Five teams are in the Hope Cup — a Horouta second 11, HSOB Presidents, Ngatapa, Campion College and Gisborne Boys’ High School.
Poverty Bay Cricket Association operations manager Nic Hendrie said player registrations were up on last year.
Registrations have topped 300, compared with 280 last season, reflecting growth at the junior level.
Hendrie said young cricketers interested in giving the sport a go, as well as their parents, could turn up on the day at Harry Barker for the muster.
It won’t be the first taste of cricket this season for some youngsters.
The association has been running hard-ball camps for school children, and trainings got under way this week.
Hendrie said Superstarter Cricket, for the region’s youngest cricketers, had been “jam-packed” and schools were supportive of the association’s programmes.
The first weekend of senior cricket would be on artificial pitches and he hoped the teams could get on grass wickets after Labour Weekend.
The Pirates club is not fielding a team this year and Gisborne Boys’ High School will have a young side in the Hope Cup, rather than scrapping to be competitive with a first 11 in the top men’s grade.
Older players at the school will be released to play for clubs.
Most of last season’s first 11 are Year 13 students and it would have been quite an ask to expect their replacements next year to foot it in the DJ Barry Cup.
The school opted to change its approach this season, fielding a Colts 11 in the Hope Cup, more likely to be a suitable competition for them.
Gisborne Boys’ High School chief of cricket Ben O’Brien-Leaf said the school had a promising group of young cricketers.
Some of their players had benefited from playing alongside adults in T15 and other cricket.
“A few of the older cricketers — Year 12-13 students such as last season’s first 11 captain Paul Stewart — have not only performed well for GBHS at Doleman Cup and DJ Barry Cup level in the previous two or three seasons, but even cut their teeth at senior representative level,” he said.
“Their growth alongside quality, experienced players indicated clearly to us that they would benefit in 2019-20 from sharing a trench with senior club captains and franchise captains,” O’Brien-Leaf said.
“We are delighted to field a team of Year 9-11 cricketers in the Hope Cup this season but would also like to express our gratitude to those local clubs that took our Year 9-11 players into their teams in the last two years.”
O’Brien-Leaf said his young charges couldn’t wait to hit Nelson Park on Sunday to take on Hope Cup champions Ngatapa.
Captain of the Pirates team last year, Dane Thompson, said it had been a struggle to get adequate numbers towards the end of last season.
Horouta will field teams in the Doleman Cup and Hope Cup and they will be boosted by South African imports Graham Hudson and Joanne van der Veen.
Van der Veen is the female cricket development officer for Poverty Bay Cricket.
The cricket calendar is ramping up quickly.
Junior representative trials will be held next week.
In senior cricket, the Walker Shield T15 Blast, to be played on Thursday afternoons, starts next month.
It is modelled on India’s IPL, where franchise teams have a “budget” and players are up for auction. An auction night will be held on November 1.
The Junior Colts League, for intermediate-aged and Year 9 and 10 cricketers, starts on October 31. Young cricketers can play in a T15 competition on Wednesday afternoons and a 30-over competition on Saturdays.
All-girl teams will also be part of the set-up this season.