Black Caps Set For Boxing Day Test

Publish Date
Tuesday, 29 December 2015, 9:15AM
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New Zealand are in line for a coveted Boxing Day match against Australia in Melbourne on their next test trip across the Tasman.

The shambolic state of the West Indies team means Cricket Australia are on the point of relegating their next tour of Australia in the 2019-20 summer to early-season status and eyeing venues such as Darwin and Townsville to host them.

The spinoff could be gold for New Zealand, who are not due to tour Australia until the 2020-21 season for two tests.

Pakistan are the other side scheduled to visit Australia in 2019-20.

There are tours to Australia by commercial and playing heavyweights England and India in the two summers before that. It is understood New Zealand and South Africa are under consideration to fill the gap about to be vacated by the West Indies, as Australia won't want a summer with just one incoming tour.

Enhancing New Zealand's chances is the fact South Africa like to be hosting internationals in the Christmas-New Year period themselves.

New Zealand Cricket aren't making any public comment on the situation but the Herald understands there have been communications on a possible scheduling change, which would have New Zealand playing tests at Melbourne starting on Boxing Day and at Sydney a week later.

New Zealand haven't played a test at either premier venue since the mid-1980s.

The most recent of the three tests played at the MCG was the thrilling final-over draw in 1987, when Richard Hadlee's 10 for 176 got New Zealand within one agonising wicket of victory.

New Zealand have played two tests at the SCG, in 1974 and 1985, when they lost by four wickets, but won the series 2-1.

CA were unable to swap the timing of the New Zealand and West Indies tours this season. They suspected they had them the wrong way round long before New Zealand arrived in Brisbane at the start of last month but could not make a change work.

Even though New Zealand were beaten 2-0, CA have recognised they are far better opposition than the hopeless Windies.

There is a belief New Zealand will have the core of their current side in prime condition for the next trip across the Tasman, and therefore able to be highly competitive.

Where arrangements get tricky are bilateral deals between countries. Changes tend to have a ripple effect.

But the Herald understands there is certainly a will to make this work, however plenty of talk needs to happen first.

And if South Africa were to confirm their interest in filling that spot, they might be preferred opposition.

With the Future Tours Programme now more an indicative than locked in programme, there is a degree of fluidity.

New Zealand are scheduled to play two tests in Australia in 2020-21 and host the Aussies in three more in the following summer.

But such is the desire to have New Zealand on the premier stages, expect NZC to push their case hard.

As for the West Indies, there is huge disappointment at their failure to even appear to be trying for much of the first two tests.

Relegation from the top table, certainly in Australia's eyes, seems a certain outcome.

CA's head of cricket operations Sean Cary has visited Cairns, Townsville and Mackay in north Queensland this summer, all of whom are campaigning for tests against Bangladesh in 2017, as are Darwin and Alice Springs.

All could be in contention to host the West Indies, a clear sign of how far they have fallen from the glory years when they ruled the test game.

NZ Herald

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