As test debuts go it hit all the right notes.
Mount Maunganui’s Bay Oval became the ninth test venue in New Zealand when it hosted the Black Caps and England over five sun-soaked days from last Thursday to Monday.
The match had a fairy tale ending with the Black Caps claiming a rare test victory over England on the final afternoon.
The Black Caps were captained by Pillans Point boy Kane Williamson who became a star at an early age at Otumoetai Intermediate and then Tauranga Boys’ College.
New ball bowler Trent Boult was educated at Tauranga Intermediate and Otumoetai College to give the home crowd extra reason to be proud of the team.
The rapid transformation of unused land at Blake Park to today’s Bay Oval has been remarkable.
The first sod was turned on March 1, 2005. Two years later Kane hammered 131 for Bay of Plenty Under-19 in a trial run of the new pitch facilities.
The visiting English cricket fans just loved being at Bay Oval and were not slow in singing their praises of the ground.
NZ Cricket CEO David White shared the positive sentiments.
“The facility just gets better and better every year and the people at Bay Oval have just done a fantastic job and it is improving all the time,” says David.
“The crowds have also been outstanding. Obviously we had a large contingency from England here which helps but it has been very well supported and the weather has been stunning. We are really delighted with how it went.”
The most important 22 yards of turf at Bay Oval passed muster as well. To get such a high standard of playing and practice pitches so early in the season is highly encouraging for future allocation of test matches here.
David says as it is November the pitch was still a little on the slow side but it was a good effort to get a wicket up to the standard prepared.
“The ground is still developing and maturing but as I said we are delighted. It was a really tough test match and both teams have bowled well. It has been a great success.”
In the match debrief to come between NZ Cricket and Bay Oval Trust key points such as how to provide shaded areas for spectators will be discussed. David says spectator comfort is an absolute priority.
Next up at Bay Oval is a T20 double header on February 2 with the Black Caps taking on India and the White Ferns playing South Africa followed by the final ODI of the series between the Black Caps and India on February 11.