Bay Oval finally looks set to host its first cricket test match this summer.
New Zealand Cricket is expected to release its schedule for the 2019-2020 season late on Friday morning and the Bay of Plenty Times understands Mount Maunganui's Bay Oval will be included as hosting one of two test matches the Black Caps will play against England.
It seems the efforts of those behind Bay Oval continuously putting bids in to host a test match – the longest, oldest and grandest version of the game, played over five days with a red ball and white clothes – has finally paid off.
It is understood the local cricket ground will host the first of two test matches against England as part of New Zealand Cricket's home international schedule.
When the Bay of Plenty Times approached New Zealand Cricket, the organsation could not confirm details before their full international schedule would be announced at 11am on Friday. The Bay Oval Trust were also unable to comment until after the announcement.
However, earlier this year, the ground's general manager Kelvin Jones said Bay Oval approached New Zealand Cricket every year and puts its best foot forward.
"We've continued to receive positive feedback from them on test cricket, we've probably felt that we've been ready for a while ... but for whatever reason, they've been reluctant to expand the number of test venues," he said in March.
At the time, he said he remained positive and determined and was looking ahead to next summer, when the Black Caps were scheduled to play home test matches against England and India.
Other matches are likely for Tauranga in the schedule, following on from last season when more than 9000 fans packed out Bay Oval for a sold-out match between the Black Caps and India. It was considered the biggest event in the cricket ground's short history.
In 2014, when the Bay of Plenty Cricket Trust was renamed Bay Oval Trust, the $2m Carrus Pavilion was opened and the first official ODI - an ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier between Canada and the Netherlands - came to Tauranga.
Later in 2014 the Black Caps played South Africa in two ODIs at Bay Oval, but the ground missed out on the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015.
However, ODIs and/or international Twenty20s have been played at Bay Oval every year since and so far the ground has hosted Black Caps matches against seven of the top 10 cricket playing nations in the world.
It also held seven ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup games in 2018, including the final.