McLean Park has no issues at all when it comes to catering to New Zealand Cricket's requirements for international matches, according to Napier City Council events manager Kevin Murphy.
The only adjustment the premier sport venue in Hawke's Bay will have to make will be with lighting if a pink-ball test is ever hosted here, says Murphy.
"They are more than happy with where the ground is at [and] the lux [of the floodlights] is fine for cricket we've got coming up," he says.
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Speculation hit a crescendo following the dramatic decrease in the number of Twenty20, one-day internationals and test matches staged in the past few summers.
Former international Mathew Sinclair, playing in the annual Twenty20 Black Clash tournament here a fortnight ago, felt it was vital for the Napier council to become "a bit more proactive" in ensuring international cricket matches of yesteryear are staged here again.
"The other thing is the lights need to be sorted out, apparently, because the lux, or whatever it is, isn't up to standard so we've got to get this ground back up to match fitness," Sinclair had said.
However, Murphy has clarified that only if pink-ball tests come to town regularly then the council would need to revisit some aspects.
"Sure, there may be an expectation that we put the lux up but, right now and the with the next allocation of games, there are no problems with the ground," he says.
McLean Park under went a $5 million upgrade amid a rash of problems with claims of fungal growth, surface flooding due to poor drainage, intensity of lux in floodlights as well as sun strike, when the sun sinks behind the Chapman Stand.
Because the McLean Park pitches are aligned east to west — rather than the traditional north to south — the glare shines directly down the wicket when there is limited cloud cover. It most notably affects the batsmen, and the fielders down on the fine leg and third man boundaries.
Murphy says the council has done a sort of "modelling exercise" done to identify exactly what the problem is.
"There's a handful of days when it it is a problem but the biggest problem is with a market like India because they do have a lot of advertising side with their media."
He says NZ Cricket is now in the loop with that so it was simply a matter of scheduling on the grounds that if they know where a potential problem is they simply won't schedule and work around that.
The council had put in a tender for the White Ferns' internationals during the ICC 50-overs World Cup to be staged in January/February next year but NZ Cricket had not allocated any here. He assures fans the next allotment will be predominantly the Black Caps involving five tours.
"There will only be a handful of venues available because of the women's world cup games being played there [at other NZ venues]."
Murphy says the reason the Women's International Cricket Board had given the council was that they had intended to stage a lot of matches on more compact venues because it was unlikely some of the encounters would lure large crowds.
"They are doing the opening in Auckland and then they've got the bulk of the games at Hagley [Oval] and they've also said to us that they've wanted to do a geographical spread of the country and we, unfortunately, missed out."
The Canterbury Cricket Trust has been granted approval for new broadcast-standard lights. which was approved last month, allowing the installation of 49-metre-long light towers.
The $4 million installation is likely to begin in April and operational by October, if everything follows the script.
"We've got plenty of other opportunities with the Black Caps playing next summer," says Murphy, adding venues such as the Bay Oval in Mt Maunganui are active but focused on cricket with an emphasis on tests.
"We are not really to stage tests in cricket now because New Zealand Cricket see our venue as too big."
He says McLean Park has been pigeon-holed as an ODI and T20 venue from the code's parent body.
Murphy says McLean Park is one of very few venues in the country that cater for its major association, that is Central Districts Cricket, which was located at the park offices but shifted its premises to the CBD a couple of years ago.
He says CD Cricket has intentions of staging as many first-class Plunket Shield and one-day matches at McLean Park as possible.
"We've always got some pressure on how many games we can actually cater for."
Murphy says the council was in the middle of discussions with NZ Cricket on how many white-ball internationals will be earmarked for here next summer.
"In the words of Graham Parks, who is the events manager for New Zealand Cricket, it's probably going to be the most challenging year for allocating grounds and games between domestic cricket and international cricket because there are so many tours coming to the country over [that period] with women's cricket taking out six venues."
He says at those venues there's an exclusive 24 days before and 12 days after of no-go zone for the Black Caps and domestic cricket although NZ Cricket had 11 venues to choose from in the country.
"In a normal [cricket] season, we don't expect to have more than two or three New Zealand games so a couple of games is where we're at."
Murphy says the council is engaged in a concerted drive to host other things at McLean Park, which will become the balancing act with sporting events.
"We'd like to think we'll get a concert at some stage and that's very likely to be at the start of a summer or the end of it because we've still got some challenges around how we manage the ground, as we haven't done it before."
He says the council also is trying to lure back the Wellington Phoenix around the end of summer or such time. Former coach Ernie Merrick brought the Phoenix here for the first time to play against the Newcastle Jets in the A-League competition in March 2014.
"We're still working through that because it's a transition period but we certainly want to see more activities at the ground through the year," he says.
"We're looking forward to an exciting couple of years of more activities [because] the ground's there to be used and the public want it to be used so we want to use it for as many things as we can."