Cobham Oval in Whangarei has become the latest addition to the rota of international cricket venues, benefiting from a push within New Zealand Cricket (NZC) to play Tests at specialist cricket grounds.
While limited-overs and Twenty20 matches are largely the preserve of stadiums like Eden Park in Auckland, NZC has pursued the use of more traditional venues for Test cricket in recent times, meaning an increase in the number of Tests for grounds like Wellington's Basin Reserve.
Whangarei's venue falls neatly within those parameters, with additional upgrade work having been done to appease the ICC match referee Alan Hurst when he made his inspection of the ground earlier this year.
The ground was used for its maiden first-class fixture in March 2009, and has hosted eight in total, in addition to a tour match between Pakistan and a New Zealand Invitational XI in January 2011.
Gary Bell, the chief executive of Northland Cricket, said the development of the ground had been done with plenty of care.
"We are delighted to have gained ICC approval to host international cricket," said Bell. "A lot of hard work has gone into the ground including creating a separate players' pavilion with more space and comfort.
"One large piece of work was increasing the grass net area and using the soil to reshape the embankment to increase capacity to 5,500. The decision is not only great for Northland Cricket but the region in general with additional visitors attracted to the region once we start hosting events."
New Zealand are scheduled to host Zimbabwe for two Test matches and three ODIs in January 2012.