Karl McKnight helped set up the Geyser City Cricket Club in Rotorua back in 1991.
The goal then, as it is today, was to create an environment where talented young players could achieve their goals and a pathway for school leavers to be able to play Baywide Premier cricket.
Since 1991 there have been plenty of highs and lows as with any sports club but Karl and a loyal nucleus of club administrators and players never gave up on that Baywide goal.
And now at the start of the 2019-2020 season that moment has finally arrived.
On Saturday Geyser City proudly hosted defending Baywide champions Greerton at Smallbone Park. Captain Dan Fisher and his team gave Greerton one heck of a fright before eventually losing by four wickets in a rain-affected contest.
Bay of Plenty Cricket has given Geyser City a trial run in Baywide cricket for the first half of the season. They will play in the Baywide T20 and Williams Cup 50-over competitions and whether they stay or go is dependent upon performance.
There is obvious pressure to perform but the arrival of the club’s professional player from England Sam Kershaw should make a huge difference. The top order batsman is a prolific run-scorer for Bootle in the strong Liverpool league and will also help with coaching at the club.
“I am just super proud with what the club has done in the last few years and obviously go to a different level,” says Karl. “It is not just about the club. What we are trying to do is something about Rotorua cricket because it has been on the downslide for many years.”
The work done to create a cricket club that future Trent Boult’s and Kane Williamson’s want to play at was rewarded last November at the Bay of Plenty Sports Awards.
Geyser City won the coveted Ebbett Tauranga Club of the Year award. The club initiated coaching programmes, indoor training facilities at the Rotorua International Stadium and a pathway to integrate the vital synergy between secondary school and club cricket.
Karl and clubmate Kane Vanner set up the programme where students from Western Heights High School and John Paul College played in the Rotorua senior reserve competition under the club’s guidance.
It was a master stroke.
The Geyser City Western Heights High School Old Boys and Geyser City John Paul College Old Boys teams competed with distinction with some of the players now stepping up to Baywide level.
Creating a pathway for young players and the link between schools and the club worked but Karl says there was a gap at the top end to play Baywide began.
“The committee decided let’s have a crack this season, even though we know we will be up against it. We had a vision for doing things a little bit different.
“With Kane’s direction and my craziness behind the scenes and others helping we have a chance to shine at Premier level.”
* Information: https://geysercricket.co.nz