A cricket tournament for Under 21 commenced with an opening ceremony on January 29, 2012 at the Waikaraka Park in Onehunga, Auckland.
The tournament, played between teams from India and New Zealand, aims to strengthen ties between the two cricket playing nations.
Four teams, including Hyderabad Colts, Delhi (India), Auckland Blues and Whites and Hutt Hawks Wellington are participating in the 19-match tournament, the finals of which will be held on February 3, followed by a prize-giving ceremony.
A fifth team from India is likely to join the tournament shortly.
Officials of St John’s Cricket and Events NZ Ltd is organising the tournament in partnership with Auckland Cricket Association, have extensive experience in international cricket events in India, Sri Lanka, Dubai, Doha and Singapore.
Hyderabad based St John’s Cricket had a tie up with Auckland Cricket to strengthen the ties between India and New Zealand through Cricket.
Black Caps all rounder Scott Styris, Auckland Cricket chief executive Mark Cameron, Super Foods Limited managing director George Mavumkal, Tournament patron Wenceslaus Anthony, initiator V Manohar and former Ranji Trophy player Barrington Rowland were among the dignitaries present at the inaugural ceremony.
Special guests included officials of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. They were joint secretary J K Dadoo, director (Oceania region) Babni Lal and Indian High Commission (Wellington) second secretary S K Verma.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Anthony said that the tournament was the first of its kind played in New Zealand and that it would provide a platform for domestic and overseas players to compete against quality opposition.
“The Under-21 age group is a catalyst for promoting players to the National team. Prizes will be awarded to the Man of the Match, Best Batsman, Best Bowler and Player of the Tournament,” Mr Anthony said.
He said the teams will play in coloured clothing with white balls.
“Auckland cricket will be providing official umpires and scorers for all games. The tournament will be an annual event with more overseas teams and other New Zealand provincial teams participating in future,” Mr Antony said.
He said Mr Manohar, a veteran cricketer, conceptualised the tournament to provide opportunities for local and overseas under-21 cricketers to have more exposure and showcase their talent.
“Mr Manohar represented Hyderabad in Ranji Trophy matches and coached the Hyderabad team for three years for the Trophy. He was also the Coach and Manager of the South Zone, which included several test players such as Rahul Dravid, Srinath, Anil Kumble and V V S Laxman. He was also a selector of the Hyderabad cricket team for five years,” Mr Antony said.
Mr Manohar manages a Cricket Academy in Hyderabad and has a partnership agreement with Wellington Cricket and Auckland Cricket, he added.
Congratulating the organisers of the tournament, Mr Dadoo said cricket was unfortunately becoming focused on earning more money than enhancing the spirit of the game.
“The spirit of rivalry should be converted to the spirit of healthy competition for everyone to enjoy Cricket,” he said.