Today sees the start of a strangely controversial Chappell-Hadlee series. Its controversy centres around the fact that it is staged in place of what would have been the first test in an otherwise three test series against Australia.
There has been a lot of outrage about this; three test series against a big nation at home are rare, but there is a sad element of reality about it. For a start, because of ICCWT20 commitments, hardly the biggest show on the planet, the New Zealand international window shuts on 24th Feb this year. Often it stretches into early April.
So timeframes are pushed. On Sunday New Zealand played an ODI against Pakistan, and Australia played a T20 against India in Sydney. Today they meet up again for the first time in an ODI since the World Cup Final.
Had the earlier blueprint of a three test only tour taken place the first test would have probably started tomorrow. Most people reading this would probably have preferred that, but you cannot tell that to the crowds of >20,000 that will turn up today, and then again in Wellington on Waitangi Day.
Cricket snobbery is a wonderful space, but those people who got swept away during the wave of last year’s World Cup need to be catered for, and there is no bigger draw card than the Yellow Evil Empire.
New Zealand Cricket would not have been doing their job if they had not fired in a three match ODI series at a time like that. And that is even without talking about the bottom line. And don’t forget about preferred viewing times for the Australia TV market either.
Anyway, this promises to be good. Embrace the rugby stadiums and enjoy the crowds. That ODI series in 1982, with a similar build-up, was pretty good too.