Boxing Day test back on NZ domestic schedule
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand will play Sri Lanka in a Boxing Day test match in Christchurch in one of the highlights of a heavy domestic cricket schedule for the 2018-2019 summer.
But a projected day-night test against Bangladesh — which would have been the second pink ball test in New Zealand after last season’s pioneering match against England at Eden Park — is off the schedule after a change of heart by Bangladesh officials.
India remain the headline act of a summer containing 40 days of international cricket, but will not play a test. Instead, they will meet New Zealand in five one-day internationals and three Twenty20 matches.
Sri Lanka will play two tests and three ODIs in December and January, before the India tour, and Bangladesh will round out the summer with three tests and three one-dayers in February and March.
The decision to award the Boxing Day test to Christchurch suggests New Zealand Cricket sees the South Island town’s Hagley Oval as New Zealand’s premier cricket venue, ahead of Eden Park which hosted a World Cup semifinal in 2015 and is the sport’s traditional home.
Eden Park will host only two Twenty20 matches this summer, against Sri Lanka on Jan. 11 and India on Feb. 8 as New Zealand Cricket moves gradually towards an alternative cricket venue in Auckland. The 60,000-seat stadium is in a residential area and subject to restrictions around night-time events.
Hagley Park and Wellington’s Basin Reserve will each hold two of the five tests New Zealand will play at home this summer and Hamilton’s Seddon Park will host the other.
Bangladesh considered playing a day-night test at Hamilton from Feb. 28 but has now rejected the proposal, citing insufficient preparation.
“We were hopeful we would get it across the line but ultimately Bangladesh thought they weren’t prepared enough for it,” NZC chief operating officer Anthony Crummy said. “They haven’t played a day-night test, nor have they had a lot of preparation in their own first class cricket. We respect that decision and I’m sure day-night cricket will continue.”
The Boxing Day test returns to the domestic schedule for the first time in several years, having been replaced recently by a one-day international on Dec. 26.