New pitch should have pace and bounce for Boxing Day clash with Sri Lanka.
Canterbury officials are confident the country's newest test venue will scrub up impressively when New Zealand meet Sri Lanka at Hagley Oval beginning on Friday.
This test has been three years in the making, since the February 2011 earthquake.
Christchurch last hosted a test - also against Sri Lanka - at Lancaster Park in December 2006. New Zealand won by five wickets, captain Brendon McCullum is the only home-side survivor, while champion Sri Lankan batsman Kumar Sangakkara belted an even 100 out of 170 for the visitors.
The most recent international matches in Christchurch were on Pakistan's visit in 2010-11 when they rolled New Zealand for just 80 - the first four batsmen made 0 - in a T20, then won an ODI by 43 runs soon after, in January 2011 shortly before Christchurch's world changed forever.
The Hagley Oval pitch block comprises 11 strips. Six are made with Waikari soil from North Canterbury; five with Kakanui, from south of Oamaru, which produces more pace and bounce.
Canterbury tend to use the Waikari-based pitches for one-day games, which have a more medium pace, and the Kakanui strips for first-class games.
The test will be played on a Kakanui-based pitch, so Sri Lanka can forget any ideas they'll get spin-friendly conditions.
Canterbury Cricket chief executive Lee Germon is proud of the fact since the block was relaid there have been no draws in first-class games.
The pitch earned a top two rating from New Zealand Cricket, he added.
"The pitch and outfield are fine and the groundsmen are happy with where they're at in terms of preparation," former New Zealand captain Germon said yesterday.
"In terms of the players' facilities, that's all in place and has been tested through the first-class programme."
There are some temporary facilities to be put in, but the word is close to a sellout crowd will watch the opening day's play on the grass-banked oval.
What the capacity is, is still being worked through, partly down to spectator comfort, and with 30C temperatures forecast for Friday. However, it's likely to be about 8000.
"It's a learning curve for us as well, being a new venue," Germon said. "We think we've got traffic and parking in place to enable pretty good access to the ground. No doubt there will be teething issues, we'd be naive not to think that. But where we are now we're comfortable we are trying to mitigate every possible risk and make it a good experience."
The new pavilion, to be named the Hadlee Pavilion, will be officially opened at a dinner tonight, at which the most famous of the Christchurch cricketing family, champion allrounder Sir Richard, will give the inaugural Spirit of Cricket speech.
3 things about Hagley Oval
1) Hagley Oval will become New Zealand's eighth test venue and second in Christchurch after Lancaster Park.
2) New Zealand have won eight, lost 16 and drawn 16 of their 40 tests in Christchurch, the last of which was a five-wicket win over the Sri Lankans in 2006.
3) Hagley is also the venue for the opening game at the World Cup, on February 14, when New Zealand again meet the Sri Lankans.
ND to trial BYO food and drink
A trial BYO scheme is in place for Ford Trophy domestic cricket games at Mount Maunganui in the New Year.
The games will be monitored during the day and assessed at their completion to see if the policy can continue for future games.
Northern Districts, who have agreed with the trial along with the Bay of Plenty Cricket Trust, have games against Wellington on New Year's Day at the Mount, and against Otago three days later with the third and final 50-over fixture at the ground against Auckland on January 21.
"There has been a lot of negativity around lack of crowds turning up to live sporting events over the past few years, with a major complaint being that the price of food and drink is too high," Northern Districts' chief executive Peter Roach said.
Roach added it is not a "carte blanche" arrangement and food and drink were still available on site.
"There will be limits in place and we will have extra security roaming the embankments to ensure that all patrons attending the games will enjoy their days," he said.