Bay Oval marked a major milestone yesterday in securing its first test match but those working behind the scenes are already striving for another goal - to make the ground New Zealand's number one cricket venue.
"We want to be the best," Bay Oval general manager Kelvin Jones says.
"We won't rest until we are."
New Zealand Cricket yesterday released its full 2019-20 International schedule, announcing Bay Oval as the host of the first of two tests between the Black Caps and England from November 21 to 25.
The announcement follows years of hard work by 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.
"We are just ecstatic with the confirmation that we will host our first Test match in November and for it to be against England makes it all the sweeter. Becoming a test venue really demonstrates we've made it to the top echelon of grounds in the country," Jones said.
"New Zealand Cricket has rightly set a very high standard to be considered for test cricket. This is a big vote of confidence for the Bay Oval Trust, the Western Bay community, our fantastic funders and sponsors and most importantly those cricket and sports lovers that have done us proud by supporting the venue."
He says securing a match against England being "one of the top teams in the world at the moment" is a massive coup and while although they've secured the Test, the preparation to host the Black Caps vs England clash is ongoing.
"It doesn't just happen a few weeks before."
Grass was sown a month ago and Jones says they have been taking good care of the grass since last season to ensure the grounds are of the highest standard possible ahead of November's Test. He says they are confident in providing "a really good wicket" but work will be ongoing beyond the upcoming season.
He's unsure of expected crowd numbers, saying it will be dependant on ticket prices, weather and people's work commitments but Jones wants to make a big deal of the Test, creating a carnival atmosphere, with family-friendly areas and entertainment. He's also hoping to see a strong Barmy Army in town, which also creates excitement.
"We want to raise the bar," Jones says.
The Mount Maunganui venue has also secured New Zealand vs India One Day International (ODI) matches in February as well as a Black Caps vs India and a White Ferns vs South Africa T20 doubleheader, also in February 2020.
Jones says to be allocated the number of matches they have been is good news, which he believes will help them in their bid to cement Bay Oval as New Zealand's top cricket venue. Although they missed out on hosting Australia this season, it just means they have another goal to set and achieve.
"In 2021, there's a women's World Cup in New Zealand. We're looking ahead to that as well. We'd like to play a big role in that.
"We're in a competitive environment."
Bay Oval's summer matches are all part of one of New Zealand Cricket's biggest home international programmes in New Zealand history. It includes visits from India, England and Australia, the South African women's side, and India A, Mount Maunganui's Bay Oval becoming a new test venue, five short-form games at Eden Park and the novelty of scheduling four of the five T20s against England as family-friendly afternoon games.
New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White congratulated the Bay Oval team.
"We're particularly thrilled for all those involved in securing the Bay Oval as New Zealand's ninth Test venue. A lot of people have worked hard for this recognition and I'm sure the venue will continue to go from strength to strength."
New Zealand Cricket fixtures at Bay Oval:
Black Caps vs England: 1st test, Thursday November 21-Monday, November 25, 2019 11am.
Black Caps vs India: T20 (fifth), Sunday, February 2, 2020, 8pm.
Black Caps vs India: ODI (3rd), Tuesday, February 11, 2020, 3pm.
White Ferns vs South Africa: 1st T20, Sunday, February 2, 2020, 4pm.