New Zealand news June 24, 2011

Whangarei to host its first ODI

ESPNcricinfo staff

Whangarei's Cobham Oval has been handed its first international fixture, a Waitangi Day ODI against Zimbabwe next summer. New Zealand Cricket (NZC) has released its home schedule for 2011-12, and the four Tests against Zimbabwe and South Africa have been allocated to Napier, Dunedin, Hamilton and Wellington, while Christchurch was ruled out due to AMI Stadium's earthquake damage.

"Unfortunately we have not been able to allocate any matches to AMI Stadium, in Christchurch," Justin Vaughan, the chief executive of NZC, said. "Following damage to AMI Stadium from the February earthquakes and subsequent uncertainty about timelines for remediation due to ongoing aftershocks, Vbase advised New Zealand Cricket that it could not absolutely guarantee that the venue would be available to host international cricket in the coming season."

In the latest start to an international summer in New Zealand for 17 years, the opening clash is the one-off Test against Zimbabwe at Napier's McLean Park, beginning on January 26. The window between the final Test against Australia in Hobart from December 9-13 and the Napier match could allow New Zealand's international players to play almost all of the domestic Twenty20 tournament, which is likely to run in December and January.

The Zimbabwe Test is followed by ODIs in Dunedin, Whangarei and Napier, and two Twenty20s in Auckland and Hamilton. Justin Vaughan, the chief executive officer of NZC, said it was good to see Cobham Oval win its first New Zealand match after being approved as an international venue by the ICC earlier this week.

"It is pleasing to be able to reward Northland Cricket by allocating an ODI to Cobham Oval," Vaughan said. "It is a credit to their hard work and I know they are thrilled to host Zimbabwe in February."

The schedule is also good news for fans in Dunedin, with University Oval back on the international circuit following improvement works last summer. The venue will host an ODI against Zimbabwe and the first Test against South Africa, beginning on March 11, before the series moves on to Seddon Park from March 15-19 and the Basin Reserve from March 23-27.

Ross Taylor, the new captain of New Zealand, said the summer would be a tough one for his team, with nine matches against the strong South African outfit. "It will be a very challenging summer of international cricket and we are looking forward to taking on South Africa and Zimbabwe at home in front of our fans," Taylor said. "South Africa is currently ranked second in world Test rankings so the three-Test series against them will be an excellent gauge of our progress."

New Zealand v Zimbabwe

January 26-30: Only Test, McLean Park, Napier

February 3: 1st ODI, University Oval, Dunedin

February 6: 2nd ODI, Cobham Oval, Whangarei

February 9: 3rd ODI, McLean Park, Napier

February 12: 1st Twenty20, Eden Park, Auckland

February 14: 2nd Twenty20, Seddon Park, Hamilton

New Zealand v South Africa

February 17: 1st Twenty20, Westpac Stadium, Wellington

February 19: 2nd Twenty20, Seddon Park, Hamilton

February 22: 3rd Twenty20, Eden Park, Auckland

February 25: 1st ODI, Westpac Stadium, Wellington

February 29, 2nd ODI: McLean Park, Napier

March 3: 3rd ODI, Eden Park, Auckland

March 7-11: 1st Test, University Oval, Dunedin

March 15-19: 2nd Test, Seddon Park, Hamilton

March 23-27: 3rd Test, Basin Reserve, Wellington