International cricket returns to Tauranga this week and the Barmy Army is sure to bring some colour and noise to what is being touted as the biggest game ever held in the city.
The Black Caps will take on England in a One Day International at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui under lights on Wednesday.
Gates open at 12.30pm and the day/night game starts at 2pm.
Bay Oval Trust general manager Kelvin Jones said the ground was looking "a picture" ahead of game two in the One-Day series.
He said there had been ongoing development work since the last game at Bay Oval, with more construction and landscaping completed.
"The ground's looking worthy of such an occasion."
Jones said it was, without a doubt, the biggest cricket match to be held in Tauranga and arguably the biggest sporting occasion the city had ever had.
"There are still tickets available. They are selling fast and with what's sold so far, we're definitely expecting close to a sell-out if not a sell-out."
He urged fans to get their seats on the grass embankment nice and early.
"It's going to be a bumper crowd and hopefully with the Barmy Army in town, it's going to have plenty of colour."
Bay of Plenty Cricket Association chief executive Chris Rapson will be there as a fan and agreed it was the biggest cricket match to be held in Tauranga.
England is currently ranked third in the world in this format – one ranking above New Zealand.
"I think it's a coming of age for the ground and a fantastic opportunity for local cricket followers."
He said Bay Oval turf manager and pitch curator Jared Carter always produced quality cricket wickets and he expected Wednesday's pitch to be up to Carter's usual high standards.
That could mean a high-scoring game – which is great news for fans – but most importantly it would be a pitch that was fair to everybody, Rapson said.
"The players love coming here and it's an opportunity for local sport fans, whichever code they follow, to see a high-quality match played by guys who are at the peak of their powers."
It was also another opportunity for Tauranga's homegrown Black Caps Kane Williamson and Trent Boult to play in front of their home crowd.
"I can't think of anything better for them."
Tourism Bay of Plenty marketing manager Kath Low said accommodation providers were "super busy" ahead of the game.
"Events such as the One Day International this Wednesday are fantastic for the city and region and to have an opportunity to host England and the Barmy Army is very special."
Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless said there were many benefits to having international cricket played at Bay Oval – locals get the chance to watch it live without having to travel and people in the region and surrounding regions come to Tauranga for the games and often stay.
"Which is all good for our area."
Meanwhile, members of the public will get the chance to bowl to members of the Black Caps in central Tauranga tomorrow.
Red Square in the CBD will be transformed, with large inflatable nets being put up between 10.30am and midday.