Regular Boxing Day tests the dream for Oval

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 04/06/2014

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Lee Germon would love nothing more than a Boxing Day cricket test to become a Christchurch tradition.

He's not overly confident it will eventuate, but the Canterbury Cricket boss and his team will do everything in their power to ensure Christchurch's first test in more than eight years goes off without a hitch.

Hagley Oval was yesterday awarded the first of only two home tests this summer, against Sri Lanka starting on December 26.

The new, boutique ground will also host a One Day International against Sri Lanka on January 11, the opening match of the seven-game series.

Germon was pleased the test match was before the ODI as it would allow a less-chaotic test of the ground, facilities and logistics.

He said it was also fitting for the newly developed, Village Green-type ground to host a test match as its first international.

"I'd love for the Boxing Day test to be regular fixture on the calendar in Christchurch, but there are a lot of variables that come into play there; availability of international teams being just one."

The ground capacity for the test match will be "around 8000", Germon said.

He said Canterbury Cricket were planning to turn the test week into a festival of cricket.

"We'd like to build a few things around the test, we really want the city to embrace it and to do that we want it to be more than just five days of cricket."

New Zealand Cricket operations manager Lindsay Crocker said while the games in Christchurch were a trial of sorts, they were also awarded on merit.

"It's a fine quality ground and it's going to be a great venue to play international cricket [at]," he said.

Crocker confirmed that Christchurch had been in line to host South Africa earlier in the summer, but it was decided to give the ground, its newly grassed embankment and its still-being-built pavilion a chance to bed in and be trialled at domestic level.

Hagley Oval is yet to be accredited for international cricket by the ICC and had the venue hosted a match in October, an ICC official would have had to be flown out earlier.

This way the match referee from the Black Caps' three-match one-day international series with South Africa in October will likely come to Christchurch after the tour for a thorough once-over of the facility.

World Cup New Zealand boss Therese Walsh, who has fought hard for Christchurch as a venue, was also pleased the city had done so well out of the match appointments and was glad Hagley would have a proper dress rehearsal before the World Cup opener - also between New Zealand and Sri Lanka - on February 14.

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"It's important for us that Hagley Oval and our other six New Zealand venues get run through their paces ahead of the World Cup," she said.

"But I'm also delighted for the people of Canterbury. Four years is a long time to wait for the return of international cricket and these matches will no doubt both be big occasions."

Dunedin and Nelson will also host ODIs during Sri Lanka's elongated series while the second test, on January 3, will be played at Wellington's Basin Reserve.

Nelson's Saxton Oval will host the fourth ODI against Sri Lanka while Dunedin's University Oval will host the fifth and sixth matches in the series.

Before Sri Lanka arrive, South Africa play three ODIs in Mt Maunganui (two) and Hamilton and just before the World Cup, Pakistan play two matches against New Zealand in Wellington and Napier.

- The Press

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