Mount to host Blackcaps homecoming

New Zealand at a previous Bay Oval fixture against England in 2019. Photo: Daniel Hines.

The Blackcaps have announced their international schedule for 2021/22, and will kick off the season on New Year’s Day in Mount Maunganui.

New Zealand men’s cricket team will be at the Bay Oval on two occasions this season, facing off against Bangladesh in a New Year’s Test match and the Netherlands in Twenty20 action in March.

Bay Oval general manager Kelvin Jones is honoured to be welcoming the Blackcaps back to New Zealand for their first fixture on home soil since being crowned ICC World Test Champions in June.

“That is a bit of a coup for us,” says Kelvin.

It will quite literally be a homecoming for some of the New Zealand stars. Captain Kane Williamson and bowlers Trent Boult and Neil Wagner all call the Bay of Plenty home.

“I know it seems like a long time since they have played at home, so this will be a nice chance for us to acknowledge that and support the team,” says Kelvin.

“What they did was pretty incredible, so it is a double honour for us to have the first home game after that match.”

Kelvin says it is also a timely return to tradition for a New Year’s Day game of cricket, hopefully in the January sunshine.

 “Traditionally we used to have a Northern Knights game at the Bay Oval, which was always well attended. So this is almost like a tradition or maybe even the start of a new one.”

The spectre of Covid-19, as always, looms large, but Kelvin has his fingers crossed that by January, protocols will be in place that allow for a healthy crowd to be present.

With the Women’s Cricket World Cup and the Black Clash charity rugby versus cricket match, which he expects to be the Oval’s most attended event, all coming up, Kelvin is excited for the venue’s future.

“Northern Districts are back in action here this week, and we have the Black Clash coming up, which will be a bit of fun,” he says.

“It is nice to be hosting these different things.

“We have even got a polo game at the end of the season, so we are really becoming a true event venue, which is great because it means more of the community coming to enjoy the Bay Oval.”

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