Eden Park not 'fit-for-purpose': NZ Cricket

Pocket-sized Auckland venue's cricket-hosting future in doubt following scathing assessment from NZC chief

Cricket Network

22 May 2018, 05:29 PM AEST

The future of one of international cricket's most unique venues is in severe doubt after New Zealand Cricket questioned Eden Park's suitability to host top-flight matches and backed plans to build a new international-standard ground in Auckland.

In a submission to the Auckland Council, NZC chief executive David White said the pocket-sized dimensions of the rugby stadium "continually risk compromising the integrity of cricket matches", while also admitting the venue's hire costs make it unaffordable for most fixtures.

Eden Park hosted NZ's first day-night Test in March // Getty
Eden Park hosted NZ's first day-night Test in March // Getty

Eden Park's famed straight boundaries can measure as short as 45 metres but are exempt from the ICC's 55-metre minimum requirement because the rectangular ground had international status before that rule was introduced.

Both the NZC and the Eden Park Trust defended the suitability of the venue after Australia's record-breaking T20 victory over the Black Caps earlier this year.

Australia break world record to run down NZ

But in NZC's submission to the 'Auckland Council Long Term Plan 2018-2028' made on March 27, White backed plans to build a new international-calibre cricket ground in New Zealand's most populous city and raised major questions over Eden Park's viability.

"Auckland is currently missing out significantly on international cricket exposure due, primarily, to the lack of a cost-effective, financially-viable venue," White wrote. 

"Eden Park – the only ICC-sanctioned arena in New Zealand's most populous city, is unaffordable for all but the biggest and, by definition, the rarest of international cricket fixtures. 

"Additionally, Eden Park's small size and rectangular, football-shaped playing field continually risks compromising the integrity of cricket matches hosted there. 

"… Auckland has hosted just three Test matches since 2006, and the number of one-day internationals and T20 internationals played in the city has been a mere fraction of what it would be, were it to offer a fit-for-purpose, international-standard cricket ground."

England skittled for 58 in Eden Park carnage

Auckland's Western Springs Speedway, which will cease hosting motorsport next year, could be redeveloped into a venue fit to host international cricket under a proposal from Regional Facilities Auckland.

New Zealand Cricket, White said, hopes to see Western Springs developed into "a full-sized, oval-shaped playing arena; able to cater for both small and large crowds in a relaxed, grass-banked, more cricket-centric surrounding."

The Black Caps bowled England out for just 58 in an innings victory at Eden Park in March but none of New Zealand's five Tests against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will be played there next summer.

Eden Park has been the scene of numerous memorable encounters between NZ and Australia over the years.

At the 2015 World Cup, Kane Williamson struck the game-winning six to seal a thrilling one-wicket win in a low-scoring affair against eventual champions Australia.

Black Caps victorious in World Cup epic

In February, Australia's David Warner-led T20 side recorded the highest successful run-chase in the format's history when they reeled in the Black Caps' 243 with more than an over to spare. The game's 32 sixes were the equal-most ever hit in a T20 International.

"There wouldn't be a player or spectator who attended Friday's T20 fixture that left the Eden Park disappointed by the atmosphere, with 488 runs scored and 13 new world records set," Eden Park Trust chief executive Nick Sautner told the NZ Herald in the aftermath of the match.

NZC chief operating officer Anthony Crummy also backed the ground following the run blitz.

"It's unique, you can't deny that, a lot of cricket grounds are," Crummy told Radio Sport.

"We think it adds to the colour of the international schedule when players have to adapt (to a smaller ground).

"It hasn't failed to deliver great contest after great contest. When you look back, they're not always high scoring either. The fans certainly have a great time when they're there, we have great contests and we're happy with it.

- with AAP

Qantas tours of England and Zimbabwe

ODI squad: Tim Paine (c), Aaron Finch (vc), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Shaun Marsh, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye

T20 squad: Aaron Finch (c), Alex Carey (vc), Ashton Agar, Travis Head, Nic Maddinson, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Andrew Tye, Jack Wildermuth

Qantas Tour of England

June 7: Warm-up v Sussex, Hove (D/N)

June 9: Warm-up v Middlesex, Lord's

June 13: First ODI, The Oval (D/N)

June 16: Second ODI, Cardiff

June 19: Third ODI, Trent Bridge (D/N)

June 21: Fourth ODI, Durham (D/N)

June 24: Fifth ODI, Old Trafford

June 27: Only T20, Edgbaston (D/N)

Qantas T20I tri-series Tour of Zimbabwe

Sunday, July 1: Zimbabwe vs Pakistan

Monday, July 2: Pakistan vs Australia

Tuesday, July 3: Australia vs Zimbabwe

Wednesday, July 4: Zimbabwe vs Pakistan

Thursday, July 5: Pakistan vs Australia

Friday, July 6: Australia vs Zimbabwe

Sunday, July 8: Final