Wellington's Basin Reserve is poised to host its first Boxing Day cricket test in 11 years.
New Zealand Cricket has most of this summer's international schedule pencilled in, and it is understood the first of two tests against Sri Lanka is earmarked for the country's premier venue on December 26.
The popular Boxing Day test began with a Simon Doull-inspired New Zealand victory over India in 1998, then was followed by Mathew Sinclair's debut double-century in a crushing victory over West Indies a year later.
But it fizzled out after just five editions, the most recent a seven-wicket defeat to Pakistan in 2003.
NZC preferred a limited overs match in Auckland on Boxing Day in recent years, but the tight scheduling with the focus on 50-over cricket leading up to the World Cup forced its hand.
The Black Caps play their fifth and final ODI against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi on December 19 then fly home for the Sri Lanka tour which includes two tests and seven ODIs. The second test is pencilled in for Christchurch's Hagley Oval in the first week of January, then New Zealand's seven World Cup venues are likely to host an ODI each.
Pakistan are also expected to tour for three ODIs in late January, just before the World Cup.
It means up to 13 home ODIs for the Black Caps in the tournament leadup, starting as early as October. South Africa are confirmed for three ODIs in the final week of October, but the venues remain up in the air.
Christchurch was originally pencilled in to host at least one at Hagley Oval, but it is understood NZC has cooled on the idea and may delay the ground's full international debut till the January test as the finishing touches are applied. Hagley will also host New Zealand's World Cup opener against Sri Lanka on February 14.
Mt Maunganui's Bay Oval is right in the frame for a potential Labour weekend doubleheader, with nearby Hamilton a likely host for the other South Africa match.
Bay Oval has yet to host a top-tier international but hosted matches in the World Cup qualifying tournament last summer and also the televised domestic one-day final last month.
Its October climate makes it a clear frontrunner to host an unusually early New Zealand ODI, with South Africa keen for some pre-World Cup experience in local conditions.
- The Dominion Post
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