Greatest grounds in world cricket: The Basin Reserve

New Zealand v Australia - 1st Test: Day 3
New Zealand v Australia - 1st Test: Day 3

The Basin Reserve is known as one of the most picturesque grounds in world cricket, preserved with heritage stands and an old, classic scoreboard. Grassy hills surround the playing arena, ideal for up to 11,600 fans.

The Basin Reserve is the oldest cricket ground in New Zealand and it is the only cricket ground in the nation to have a 'Historic Place' status. The grandstand and pavilion are listed as Category 2 Historic Places (since 19821), while The William Wakefield Memorial has a Category 1 status.

New Zealand v India - First Test: Day 1
New Zealand v India - First Test: Day 1

The ground first played host to a domestic cricket match on January 11 1868, before hosting its first Test in 1930. It has hosted the most Blackcaps Tests and the eighth-most Tests in world cricket - 65 matches. Only English and Australian venues have hosted more Tests.

It is also stationed in the middle of an intersection that creates the largest roundabout in New Zealand, just a few miles outside the city's CBD. The NZC museum is located in the grandstand, housing memorabilia and a large reference library.

The ground is nestled between two mountains - Mount Victoria and Mount Cook - in the inner suburbs of Wellington. It houses a natural sun trap for spectators shielding them from notoriously chilly winds.

Wellington's climate is cool-temperature, with a meager average maximum temperature of 21 degrees in January, while the city also expects up to 6 days of rain in that month. More often than not, the Basin Reserve pitch will offer a green tinge on its surface, providing for an intriguing contest between bat and ball.

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The venue's characteristics personify the essence of cricket, and it should have a place in the international schedule to maintain connections to the sport's humble beginnings.

The Basin Reserve has played host to some fantastic moments in world cricket, including former Blackcap Brendon McCullum's mammoth triple-century.

It also played host to current captain Kane Williamson's first ever Test double-century.

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In 1990/91, Martin Crowe (299) and Andrew Jones (186) posted the then highest third-wicket partnership of 467 against Sri Lanka. The great Sir Richard Hadlee also took his 300th Test wicket at the venue.

Recently retired batter Ross Taylor holds the record for the most runs scored at the Basin Reserve, having notched up 1279 runs. Chris Martin's tally of 60 wickets is the most by any bowler on the ground.

Touring sides have largely struggled against the Blackcaps when facing the prospect of a Test at the Basin Reserve. New Zealand have only lost two matches at the venue since 2009, one to South Africa in 2017 and one to Australia in 2016.

Test matches rescheduled in New Zealand

But for the first time since 1995/96, the Blackcaps will not host a Test match in Wellington this season. New Zealand Cricket (NZC) has recently announced a multitude of changes to its international schedule.

The upcoming second Test against South Africa on February 25 - March 1 was due to take place at the Basin Reserve, but has since been diverted to Hagley Oval in Christchurch (where the first Test will also be played).

Two T20Is scheduled against Australia on March 17 and 18 in Wellington have also been relocated to McLean Park in Napier.

Moving away from the Basin Reserve has been forced by NZC's desire to mitigate any risk of Covid-19 infections in Wellington. Hopefully that is not codespeak for moving fixtures to more commercially viable venues amidst the ODI series cancelation with Australia.

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Edited by Diptanil
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