New Zealand to host its first day-night test in March
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand will stage its first day-night cricket test next March after Auckland City Council approved the use of Eden Park for the match against England, the country's board said on Monday.
The game, the first of a two-match series, will be played from March 22-26, with the second test in Christchurch from March 30 to April 3.
The owners of Eden Park had to seek consent from the council due to restrictions on the number of events held at night at the venue in suburban Auckland.
New Zealand Cricket (NZC) Chief Operating Officer Anthony Crummy said in a statement the match would help open up the sport to more people.
"NZC has a particular focus on improving access to cricket for everyone," he said.
"Being able to stage the test as a day-nighter is a significant step in the right direction.
"This means we can promote cricket in its most modern and vibrant incarnation; we can improve accessibility for new audiences, and we can showcase Eden Park, Auckland and New Zealand to a truly global audience."
New Zealand played the inaugural day-night test against Australia in Adelaide in November 2015, and after witnessing the success of that match had been hoping to host their own 'twilight' fixture.
They had originally planned to face South Africa under lights at Seddon Park in Hamilton earlier this year but trials in first-class cricket found the lighting was not strong enough.
Twilight tests have proved successful in Australia, while England's first day-night test between the hosts and West Indies earlier this month attracted 70,000 fans over the three days.
"This a very important outcome for test cricket lovers in New Zealand simply because it allows us the opportunity to play the game at a time when more people can engage with it," Crummy added.
"We're sure it will be a very successful event, and that English and New Zealand fans alike will make the most of the opportunity."
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford)