The weather forecast is looking mighty fine and the anticipation is building for Bay Oval's inaugural test match, which gets under way this week.

On Thursday at 11am, the first red ball will be bowled in an international five-day cricket test at the Mount Maunganui ground.

The Black Caps and England will be welcomed on to the ground this afternoon with a pōwhiri, and both teams will train at Bay Oval today.

This match has been a long time coming for Bay Oval staff, who have been eagerly waiting for the chance to host a test.


"We're just very grateful that we get the opportunity to have a game," turf manager Jared Carter said yesterday.

"The boys are excited, they're very keen to get the game under way now."

He said a bit of rain early this week won't affect the lead-up at all.

"We knew it was going to rain, so we were prepared for it."

However, the MetService forecast for Thursday through to Monday – all days fine – still came as a great relief to Carter.

"Hell yes," he said with a laugh. "Definitely."

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Carter said: "Most of the prep's done now, so now it's just monitoring, and holding it, and doing the final few last-minute details and getting it all sorted.


"We just hope it will be a good, true wicket that will let the players do their thing."

Bay Oval turf manager Jared Carter inspecting the ground yesterday. Photo / George Novak
Bay Oval turf manager Jared Carter inspecting the ground yesterday. Photo / George Novak

Bay Oval general manager Kelvin Jones said some of the local Black Caps who live in the area – Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme and Neil Wagner – had been training at the ground over the past few days.

"So it's quite cool, with all the local guys in the squad, they've been in the nets, making the most of the ability to come to their home ground and train."

Jones said preparations were going well ahead of the inaugural test.

"It's looking really good, everything's well on track."

He said his team had been working on minor projects at the ground, looking to make small improvements on last season – a bit of landscaping here and there, a slightly bigger embankment, "always trying to enhance that customer experience and that spectator experience".


There will be a food truck and garden market area again, and over the weekend there will be activities for the kids, including blow-up castles and a climbing wall.

"It's obviously a different beast for us, it's not as many people per day but it's certainly, over five days, a big thing," Jones said.

"It's just exciting; it's something new."

He said New Zealand Cricket was happy with the number of ticket sales so far.

"They're going really well, a really high number of pre-sales, which is not common for test cricket," Jones said.

"People will generally wait and see what the weather is, but the fact there's been a really significant number of pre-sales is really encouraging, especially for the first three days and in particular the weekend."

Bay Oval general manager Kelvin Jones. Photo / File
Bay Oval general manager Kelvin Jones. Photo / File

Wagner, speaking at Bay Oval yesterday, said: "I've always had to sit on the bank and watch the boys play in white ball [limited overs cricket] games here, so it will be pretty exciting to get out in the whites and play on this beautiful ground.

"Hopefully everyone gets right behind it, I know they will."

He was looking forward to the big summer of cricket ahead and playing against quality opposition.

"I'm pretty fizzed up for it."

Having the first test of the summer at his home ground was also special.

"Playing here, which is your new home, waking up in your own bed and coming to the ground is always quite an exciting prospect too, so looking forward to it."