Challenge Cup Cricket 19th December 2021 (EBOP vs BOP)

Early 2021 the Eastern Bay of Plenty cricket team won the cricket Challenge Cup from Manawatu. As the author understands it the celebration was long and well deserved.

The Challenge Cup is essentially the Ranfurly Shield of Police Cricket and played in the T20 format.

Shortly after the hearing of the victory Iripa RANGI of Bay of Plenty sent out for calls of interest to players.  Cricketing CVs and the form guide of the WBOP Rank vs File match based the selection of the BOP Barbarians.

A challenge was issued to the EBOP and on the 19th of December 2021 EBOP hosted the BOP team at Rex Morpeth Park, Whakatane.  As expected for the Bay of Plenty the sun was blazing, not a cloud in the sky and the mercury hitting around 28 degrees.  Perfect conditions for players and the mass of spectators alike.

The grass wicket assigned for the game was not quite complete so the match was transferred to the artificial wicket.

EBOP skipper James RENWICK, in true Police fashion, flipped a Police Iphone for the toss and sent BOP into bat.

Openers Scott MERRITT and Gurwinder SINGH had a great opening partnership of 89 before SINGH  (44 from 32) fell to RENWICKs very first delivery.  A lofted square cut that was plucked from the air by the athletic Huri RAIHANIA in what would be the catch of the match.

(Photo Courtesy of the Beacon newspaper)

MERRITT continued to anchor the innings and see off the very impressive and quick bowling of Sam WATSON. MERRITT was eventually out for 61 form 50.


The only one other batter to fall was Iripa RANGI for 12.  The two not out batters Jason ARNEL and Shonit CHANDRA kept the momentum going with run a ball partnership.  In the end BOP used the allocated overs to post 159 for 3.

Bowling well for EBOP was Sam WATSON, 16 runs from his four overs, James RENWICK 1 for 22 and Andrew Shovel SHOVE 1 for 17.

EBOP left the field to pad up and rehydrate.

A quick turnaround and out to the crease come the evergreen Mike HAYWARD and Bay of Plenty rugby legend Dean OSWALD.  Unfortunately for the Dean the legendary rugby skills couldn’t save him from being run out without facing a ball on the very first ball of the innings.

Once HAYWARD composed himself, he and Brent ANDERSON set about building an innings in a display of power hitting and deft stroke making.  BOP finally got the breakthrough with Shonit CHANDRA getting the prized wicket of HAYWARD (32 from 32.)

(Photo Courtesy of the Beacon newspaper)

Momentum swung back to the BOP side and the run rate starting creeping up to around 11 per over.  Veteran all rounder Steve SPRATT came to the crease with the confidence that has served him extremely well over the years of club cricket.  The power batting of SPRATT and the stroke making of Brent ANDERSON, Dave ROBISON and Sam WATSON saw the run rate drop and put the game in the balance.

The crowd-made up of wife’s, partners, colleagues, kids and bosses-  sensed the change and become very verbal.  Interestingly the humour and sledging of the home crowd was directed to not only the opposition but also their own team.

SPRATT and WATSON peppered the boundary.  WATSON on one occasion hit the ball so hard that if it wasn’t for the boundary fence the ball would be in Taneatua.

The BOP team removed SPRATT (21 from 10), ROBISON (7 from a few) in quick succession leaving EBOP two runs a ball for victory.

Jason ARNEL was handed the ball to finish his last two overs and this proved to be a match winner.  In his final two balls of his third over he took consecutive wickets.  The very next delivery by Carl McLAUGHLAN saw a team hattrick.  ARNELs fourth over began with a wicket and then another.

EBOP bowled out in the final over for 146.  WATSON remained stranded on 22 not out

Notable bowling for BOP was Shonit CHANDRA 2-24 and Aaron WILLIAMS 2 for 24. Incredible bowling was Jason ARNEL 4-14 from 3.2 overs including a double hat trick.

The Challenge Cup was handed over to the BOP Barbarians and will remain in the cabinet until the next challenge.  Rumour has it that there are teams lining up for the challenge if the venue is the Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui.

The game was played as it is meant to be played.  Both teams played in great spirit and it was refreshing to see a large amount of supporters from both teams at the match.  Police Sport kindly funded the food and drinks for the innings break and aftermatch.

Manawatu and EBOP, with the full support of Police Sport have set the platform for the Police Cricket Challenge Cup.  BOP are very honoured to now hold the mantle and will see that this legacy continues.  In the future the BOP team will be made up of players from the entire Bay of Plenty District under the banner of BOP

Any correspondence from prospective challengers can be directed to Iripa (Alister) RANGI or Aaron WILLIAMS.

Again a massive thanks to the Eastern Bay of Plenty team and supporters and to Police Sport for making this happen.

Holders of the “Challenge Cup for Cricket” now Bay of Plenty.