Former Black Cap and 1992 Cricket World Cup hero Gavin Larsen says to expect memorable moments from the best ODI pitch in the country.
Larsen said preparations were well underway for Napier's McLean Park to host three Cricket World Cup matches next year with the nation's "best pitch" likely to produce more tournament memories.
The former international cricketer is now New Zealand Cricket's cricket operations manager and is visiting New Zealand's seven 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup venues for a "snapshot" view of their progress for the tournament.
Yesterday he spoke to Hawke's Bay Today on the McLean Park turf where he marvelled at the "quality of surface" head groundsman Phil Stoyanoff produced with the centre square and the nearby Nelson Park practice facilities.
"It's a world-class venue in terms of the quality of the pitch and we are very confident McLean Park will produce, like the rest of the grounds around the country, quality World Cup pitches," Larsen said.
"[Yesterday] is really an end of season snapshot of the park and training facilities. Looking for any hot spots that need addressing and gaining a re-assurance from the venues, council, turf managers that everything will be ready."
As a former international player, he was excited Napier, a venue popular with players, had been chosen to host matches and looked forward to seeing the best ODI batsman carve sixes over point as Martin Crowe did for the Black Caps in the only McLean Park-hosted match of the 1992 World Cup.
New Zealand won that particular, rain-affected, fixture against Zimbabwe after Crowe smashed 73 not out from 43 balls and "Postman" Larsen delivered yet again with 3 for 16 to halt cricket legend Andy Flower and the Africans with his medium pace.
Larsen said some maintenance work will occur, including drainage improvements on the outfield but the player and spectator facilities all met ICC standards.
"The players really enjoy coming to Napier, it has a good provincial feel and the pitch is probably the best one-day pitch in the country.
"It is also quite unique with the training facilities actually over at Nelson Park but they are of a tremendous standard as well. Aesthetically, McLean Park is very good and I like to say it is one of those grounds along the main trunk line of cricket grounds in the country."
Wanting a celebration of cricket on and off the field, Larsen and Cup organisers were looking for a certain type of pitch to "showcase the talents" of the world's best cricketers.
"A one-day pitch has to have bounce and pace. We don't want lots of seam or low, slow turning pitches. We want the best bowlers in the world to be able to have an impact and we want runs to be scored. At the end of the day, we are in the entertainment business."
With the tournament fast approaching, now only months away, anticipation builds for a resurgent Black Cap team looking to emulate and go one or two results better than Larsen's 1992 semifinal squad.
"We are in monitoring mode through the winter and rugby season and then come the start of next season, September, October when ICC turf consultant Andy Atkins comes over to inspect the grounds in New Zealand and Australia everything will start to get really exciting."
The 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand between 14 February-29 March next year, 23 years after it was last held in this part of the world.
Since then, the tournament has grown to be one of the biggest sporting events in the world, with more than one million people expected to attend matches across the two host countries and more than one billion to watch the global broadcasts.
In New Zealand, matches will be played in Auckland, Hamilton, Napier, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin.
Central Districts is also the only major association to have two venues hosting World Cup games next year.
There are also seven host cities in Australia with Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney chosen as venues.