Eden Park to host England
Wellington - Auckland's Eden Park will host Test cricket for the first time since 2006 when the world's top-ranked team England tour New Zealand early next year, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) said on Thursday.
The park was revamped for the 2011 rugby World Cup and was left off the Test schedule while undergoing the redevelopment, though it did host limited overs internationals.
Since then, test matches have been hosted at smaller boutique grounds like Napier's McLean Park, Hamilton's Seddon Park or University Oval in Dunedin.
Organisers were mindful of the large contingent of travelling England fans in choosing the venue, which has a capacity of about 46 000 and last hosted the West Indies in 2006.
"We felt the England tour presented a good opportunity to allocate a match to our largest city," NZC chief executive David White said.
"An inbound England tour brings in a large number of supporters who create a wonderful atmosphere and we are sure the people of Auckland will turn out in force to see two quality teams in what promises to be a fantastic occasion."
New Zealand's second largest city of Christchurch would not host any matches after an earthquake in 2011 badly affected the main cricket and rugby venue at Lancaster Park, though England would play a four-day match against a New Zealand XI in Queenstown before the first Test in Dunedin.
"We felt it was important to schedule an international match in the South Island and a Test match at University Oval was the logical choice," White added.
"It was 1966 when the England team last played a Test match in Dunedin so I'm sure the locals will get behind the event."
New Zealand Cricket on Thursday released the following itinerary for England's tour of New Zealand in February-March, 2013.
England itinerary Feb 4 v New Zealand XI, Twenty20 match,
Whangarei Feb 6 v New Zealand XI, Twenty20 match, Whangarei Feb
9 v New Zealand, 1st Twenty20 international, Auckland Feb 12 v
New Zealand, 2nd Twenty20 international, Hamilton Feb 15 v New
Zealand, 3rd Twenty20 international, Wellington Feb 17 v New
Zealand, 1st ODI, Hamilton Feb 20 v New Zealand, 2nd ODI, Napier
Feb 23 v New Zealand, 3rd ODI, Auckland Feb 27-Mar 2 v New Zealand
XI, four-day match, Queenstown Mar 6-10 v New Zealand, 1st Test,
Dunedin Mar 14-18 v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Wellington Mar 22-26 v
New Zealand, 3rd Test, Auckland