For the first time in almost two decades I won't be watching or covering international cricket in Napier this summer.

The irony, of course, isn't lost on me that while Hawke's Bay has been predominantly bathed in sunshine this holiday rain has brought other key sport centres around the country down to the knees.

It was only 10 months ago that cricket umpires were pushing and prodding into the turf at McLean Park after inclement weather left its calling card amid questions on drainage at the province's premier venue.

The second one-day international between the Black Caps and Australia was abandoned without a ball bowled, much to the dismay of incensed fans, and scribes outside the region took much delight in dubbing the venue, "McRain Park".


New Zealand Cricket got the ball rolling on an inquisition and the upshot of that was the playing surface needed to be re-turfed as part of a $2 million project.

Despite much excitement about drop-in pitches, work on the project encountered delays and other venue minders in North Island rubbed their hands in glee at the prospect of hosting impending internationals.

Seddon Park, Hamilton, became host of the ODI between the Black Caps and South Africa on March 1, last year.

A declaration followed weeks later from the city fathers here that they weren't going to throw their hats into the ring for hosting rights to the ICC under-19 men's cricket World Cup, starting on Saturday next week in Whangarei, Tauranga, Christchurch and Queenstown.

The knockout blow for the McLean Park faithful came amid another disclosure that Mount Maunganui (Bay of Plenty) will become the beneficiaries of the Black Caps v England ODI match scheduled for February 28.

In the defence of Napier mayor Bill Dalton, it makes sense to swallow one's pills now to come out revitalised at a historic sporting venue of more than a century where the first live television coverage of first-class rugby in New Zealand (the 1972 match between Australia and Hawke's Bay) and New Zealand's first home day-night cricket international, against Zimbabwe in 1996, were staged.

No doubt, as this summer winds down cricket fans' melancholic mood will turn to a philosophical one in joining the chorus of support for the need to look at the bigger picture.

The uplifting thing with summer is that it offers a permission slip of sorts to laze about with a few tinnies to watch sport on the box.

Regrettably unpredictable weather can negate that, too.

At last count, an ODI and a Twenty20 international against the West Indies didn't go so well but, then again, neither are the tourists although they have my sympathy after one could have been excused for thinking they were in the grip of a snap winter a day after Christmas.

After the T20 no result at Bay Oval, Tauranga, on New Year's Day the second T20 at Mt Maunganui yesterday had a warning.

"Bring a coat and your Duckworth-Lewis calculator. A cloudy, rainy match," the MetService forecast had wisely advised fans on its website.

Rain delays at the women's international tennis, the ASB Classic, in Auckland have prompted organisers to defer games into the wee hours of the morning.

To be honest, I flicked through the channels between the classic and Hopman Cup tennis, a precursor to the Australian Open, and it was a no contest with the standard of play in Perth.

Some top seeds have toppled and it makes one wonder if the players just can't wait to jet across the Tasman.

Is it time for the City of Sails, where pyrotechnicians ignited "six-figure" sums of money into colourful smoke at the Sky Tower to mark New Year, to consider a retractable roof for the tennis venue?

On the flip side, Aussie jockey Katelyn Mallyon found the race track, at times, a tad too hard for some mounts during the New Year's meeting in Hastings.

On the bright side in Napier, though, a Central Districts XI beat India U19s in a pre-World Cup match at McLean Park on Tuesday by 57 runs.

For those who need a fix there's another opportunity to watch the sides again at the same venue today.

My preoccupation, of course, is always with the bigger picture.

How is the drop-in pitch, if it is being employed, panning out at McLean Park?

That concern comes on the heels of the Boxing Day Ashes test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground amid scathing criticism the manufactured wicket just didn't cut it in the stalemate.

England seamer Jimmy Anderson got stuck into the highway project from day one, reminding MCG ground staff 90,000 fans weren't intending to turn up to watch a handful of batsmen dictate terms .

Australia captain Steve Smith echoed those sentiments as other detractors reminded the creators of "multi-purpose pitches" of the need for a wicket to deteriorate to offer bowlers some traction, too.

Preparing such wickets isn't an exact science and, in many cases, curators have had to go back to school to remodel and refine their art.

Is it time to invest in an international cricket/soccer venue in Hastings?

Cost and consents aside, it should be viewed as insurance in ensuring fans aren't penalised in times of crisis and the region remains a magnet for major events on account of its climate.

If tracks can appear and disappear on Te Mata Peak then anything is possible.