It made its ODI debut five years ago and has steadily developed into one of New Zealand’s leading venues. It ticks most boxes; the village green thing, lights (it’s likely to become the premier pink ball venue), local support, and a mostly reliable climate.
For those paying attention Northern Districts becomes the first Major Association to host test in two different centres, and this should be a good wake-up call for Hamilton which, from a distance, seems to have taken things for granted.
Those NZ grounds on debut in full.
January 1930; Lancaster Park, Christchurch
Where it all started, against a bit-part England team, noting that they were simultaneously playing test in the West Indies.
The number 26 still hangs over New Zealand cricket like an albatross but in the first session of test cricket played by New Zealand they found themselves 21/7 as Maurice Allom on debut had some fun..
“His eighth over saw Roger Blunt narrowly escape being lbw to the first ball (a leg-bye was taken); Stewart Dempster was bowled by the next; Tom Lowry, the large Kiwi skipper, played and missed at the third ball and was lbw to the fourth; Ken James was caught by wicketkeeper Tich Cornford, standing up at the stumps; and the sixth ball bowled Ted Badcock, giving Allom a hat-trick and four wickets in five balls.”
New Zealand did restrict England to 181 in their first innings before going down by 8 wickets. Time for a change at the top of the order…
January 1930; Basin Reserve, Wellington
This is a test that is best summed up in this piece, and there is not a lot more to be said.
February 1930; Eden Park, Auckland
Guess what; it rained. The first two days were washed out, which does have a bit of an an impact on a three day test.
So it was decided to add on a fourth test to the series in the following week. In a sign of the times “Wanganui agreed to forego their fixture with England so that the game could take place”.
For the record England scored 330/4 dec and New Zealand replied with 96/1; the highlight being Stewie Dempster hitting the last ball for a six. The fourth test was also a draw.
March 1955; Carisbrook, Dunedin
New Zealand’s fourth test venue, and once again the opponents were England. For the first time tests in New Zealand tests were five day affairs which was just as well in this case as days 3 and 4 were washed out.
Dunedin citizens had waited 25 years for test cricket. At lunch they must have wondered what the fuss was all about as New Zealand had crawled to 24/1. At the end of the day’s play they had been bowled out for 125 off 81 overs; and that included 74 from Bert Sutcliffe who did a bit of a Bannerman thing.
Even with the loss of those days England won comfortably by 8 wickets with the hosts making 132 in the second innings.
Worse was to follow in the next test in Auckland.
February 1979; McLean Park, Napier
The 50th test venue.
The Basin Reserve was being upgraded at the time, so this was the first test to be played in the provinces, and it was the start of what has been a running gag ever since. It rained for 30 continuous hours in the middle of the test. The Sunny Hawkes Bay.
There were centuries to Asif Iqbal, Geoff Howarth at his peak, and Majid Khan as the match ended in a predictable draw.
February 1991; Seddon Park, Hamilton
12 years later Northern Districts finally became the last Major Association to host a test match. Since then it’s been as regular as any other ground. The opponents were Sri Lanka, and this was the test following the Jones / Crowe record partnership at The Basin.
In fact Andrew Jones couldn’t stop scoring runs in that series; here he would become the third New Zealander o score a century in each innings. Asanka Gurusinha answered in kind for Sri Lanka
The match ended in a draw, but fair play to Sri Lanka who gave a fourth innings chase of 418 a good crack.
January 2008; University Oval, Dunedin
This was the first time a city had a new test venue. Carisbrook was still in operation as a rugby ground but the writing was on the wall for grounds like that. This time the opposition was Bangladesh and New Zealand won by 9 wickets.
It was a match most remembered for Matt Bell scoring a century in his first test in 6 years, but more for Chris Martin’s highest test score of 12*. This was the first time a debut test had resulted in a home victory.
December 2014; Hagley Oval, Christchurch
As with Carisbrook, Lancaster Park had been dispensed of as a test venue five years before the quakes finished off the job as New Zealand Cricket moved towards smaller single use cricket grounds.
This was a busy time for cricket; the focus was all about the forthcoming World Cup, and this match was also played in the shadow of the recent passing of Phil Hughes. Once again the opponents were Sri Lanka.
The first day was the polar opposite of the first day at Carisbrook. Despite a slightly delayed start New Zealand were 429/7 in 80.3 overs. McCullum made 195 from 134 balls, and Neesham made 85 off 80.
When Sri Lanka replied with 138; dismissed at tea on Day 2 it looked as if we were on for a quick one. But in a good example of why captains in the modern era don’t fancy enforcing the follow on they rallied to make 407 in the second.