The Press

Napier loses another ODI


Black Caps captain Kane Williamson and coach Mike Hesson won’t be gracing Napier’s McLean Park again till February at the earliest, as a full overhaul of the playing surface is undertaken.

Hawke’s Bay cricket fans face yet another delay to watch the Black Caps, after confirmati­on the January one-day internatio­nal against Pakistan will not be played at McLean Park as scheduled.

New Zealand Cricket plans to release the home season schedule next week, which will include confirmati­on Napier has lost host status for the fourth Pakistan ODI in the final week in January.

Napier City Council, which owns the ground, plans to start a $2 million overhaul of McLean Park’s turf and drainage systems in late October, which could stretch until the end of January.

‘‘Our priority very much has to be focused on getting that turf right.

‘‘With that in mind, we’ve been liaising with New Zealand Cricket about the fixtures and the decision has been made mutually that’s it’s probably best to leave that Pakistan game to one side,’’ said Fiona Fraser, manager communicat­ions and marketing for Napier City Council.

‘‘We felt it was best to wait till February when we’ve got a much better shot at having everything right and ready.

‘‘That’s our priority at the moment, is making sure the turf is completely top notch, and able to be played on as soon as possible without any risk.’’

Another anxious wait then looms for the marquee series of the summer against England.

If work goes to plan, and McLean Park gets the green light, it will host the second England ODI in late February, which it was awarded last year along with the Pakistan match.

That was before the February debacle when the Australia ODI was abandoned due to a waterlogge­d playing surface, several hours after rain stopped when nearby Nelson Park was bone dry.

It was the third drainagere­lated ODI abandonmen­t at McLean Park in four years, and saw NZC shift the South Africa ODI from Napier to Hamilton.

‘‘Confidence is pretty high for the England game.

‘‘We’re aiming to have the turf installed and ready to roll by the end of January, and we’re confident we’ll be ready to go by [late February],’’ Fraser said.

‘‘We don’t want a repeat of the last match we had at the ground and we’ve continued to work very closely with New Zealand Cricket. We want to feel 100 per cent confident, and anyone who comes to Napier to feel 100 per cent confident too.’’

Because it’s Hawke’s Bay rugby’s home ground, the McLean Park turf overhaul cannot start until after the Magpies’ final regular season match against Manawatu on October 15.

Fraser said there were also delays in growing the new turf in Auckland, due to July’s heavy rainfall. McLean Park’s loss will be another ground’s gain, with Hamilton’s Seddon Park or Tauranga’s Bay Oval the potential new hosts of that Pakistan ODI.

Venues for the inbound tours by West Indies, Pakistan and England were announced last year but dates will be confirmed next week, while February’s Twenty20 triseries against Australia and England was confirmed earlier this year.

Auckland’s Eden Park looks likely to host the second test against England on March 22-26 as planned, regardless of whether it’s under floodlight­s.

Hopes are fading for the country’s first pink ball test, as NZC awaits resource consent from Auckland City Council, a process which is moving at glacial speed.

Wellington won’t host an England test, with Christchur­ch’s Hagley Park awarded the first of that two-test series, but the capital fared well otherwise.

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