The New Zealand cricket team are edging closer to booking one of the sport's most coveted fixtures — a Boxing Day test in Australia.

The event could come about as early as 2019.

No tour dates have been finalised, but the Herald understands plans are developing for the Black Caps to play their first test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground since 1987.

That was the occasion of a draw which went down to the final overs as Sir Richard Hadlee and Danny Morrison duelled with Craig McDermott and Mike Whitney, the hosts' last pair. Whitney played out the final over from Hadlee after McDermott survived a confident lbw appeal from Morrison, eight balls from the end.


The idea of New Zealand's return to a MCG test was first mooted in 2015 when the West Indies' were trounced by 177 runs and brought in a crowd of just 127,000 across five days, the lowest tally in the last 22 tests at the venue.

The Black Caps next tour to Australia was pencilled in for the 2020-21 summer, but could be brought forward. More will be known once the next future tour programmes schedule is finalised through until 2023. Pakistan are also set to tour Australia in 2019-20.

There can be few doubts New Zealand have earned the right to play the occasion after a 32-year hiatus.

From a test perspective, New Zealand has welded together a core of consistent performers. The Black Caps let Australia get away on them in the first innings at Brisbane during the last series, before gaining parity in the draw at Perth and suffering a tight loss in the day-night fixture at Adelaide.

In limited overs matches, the side are the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy holders and, on Tuesday against Pakistan, set a national record of 11 consecutive wins across all formats.

Outside a test at Lord's, the MCG ranks on the next tier of hallowed arenas, alongside the likes of Eden Gardens, Kolkata and Newlands, Cape Town.

The main downside is that New Zealand Cricket would sacrifice a potential opportunity to earn revenue from fixtures at home.