The Auckland Domain should become the future home of test cricket in the Queen City.
That's the strong view of some prominent cricketing personalities in this country, led by former New Zealand captain Mark Burgess.
Burgess, who played 50 tests from 1968-1980 and is one of only a handful of Kiwis to score centuries in three consecutive test matches, thinks the Domain is the logical - and best - venue for the sport in the city.
He's found support from some respected names in the sport, including other former New Zealand captains and players.
"I think the game would find a new heart in Auckland at the Domain," Burgess told the Herald on Sunday. "With not much work, it could be made into something that showed off Auckland and reintroduced the game to the city. It's accessible, it has a great natural setting and ambience and the perfect atmosphere for cricket. I can't see why it is not part of the discussion."
Eden Park has been Auckland's test match venue since the 1930, but there is an increasingly held view that it won't be suitable into the future. The stadium has always had small boundaries, but the reconfiguration for the 2011 Rugby World Cup created a doll house-like effect for today's big-hitting batsmen, and the ground requires a special exemption from the ICC to play there.
"Cricket deserves to have the right platform to present itself, which it just doesn't do in Auckland," said Burgess. "Eden Park is an uninviting place in the main oval. There is a lot of concrete, it's not the kind of place you can wander around and relax. It's better out the back on the number two field but access isn't easy."
Although only used for park cricket now, the Domain has a long history in the sport. The City and Suburban Cricket Association was formed in 1913, and club games (and occasional first-class matches) were played there for most of last century, before the City and Suburban club folded in the early 1980s.
Burgess' vision takes inspiration from Christchurch's Hagley Park, which has become one of the most picturesque and popular cricket venues in the country with minimal impact on the natural surroundings.
"Whatever you did there, you wouldn't need to change it to prevent anything it is currently used for, like the evening concerts," said Burgess. "It would actually enhance the ground and those events. It's also accessible, with motorway both ways, cars, rail, buses. It's walking distance from the city, Newmarket and K Rd."
The cost implications may also be significant. The favoured venue as the new home of test cricket is Western Springs stadium, which Regional Facilities Auckland hope to transform into a cricket and AFL venue by 2020. But Auckland Council was told the estimated cost could be up to $70 million and mayor Phil Goff has already ruled out spending such a sum. Hagley Oval cost about $10m to develop as a test venue and Burgess feels the Domain might be a similar sum.
"I'm sure Western Springs could be a decent ground but it would be comfortably in second place [to the Domain] in terms of atmosphere, accessibility and how good the place could look," said Burgess.
"There are steep banks all round, the ground is set down below a wall - it's more like a tennis arena.
"I'd like the Domain to be thrown in and discussed as one of the options," said Burgess. "If people did homework on what has happened at other venues in other countries, and within New Zealand, they might look at it favourably."
Regional Facilities Auckland CEO Chris Brooks said the Domain was not in their thinking, and they were pressing ahead with development plans for Western Springs.
"The Domain is not really something we've discussed," said Brooks. "It is administered by the [Auckland] council and not really within our realm. We are very excited about the possibilities offered by Western Springs in the future."