The Napier City Council is hoping the sun and rain issues which have threatened McLean Park's future for major cricket will become things of the past with Friday night's match between New Zealand and England.
The three-hour Twenty20 match, starting at 6pm and expected to last about three hours as the third game in a five-match series the New Zealand Black Caps lead 2-1, is the only international cricket fixture on the park this summer, although last week it was revealed the second Black Clash charity match between cricket and rugby stars will be played in Napier on January 17.
The matches come as the council tries to rebuild the ground's reputation after catastrophes at two of the three most-recent major men's cricket internationals, most seriously the 2017 Australia-New Zealand one-day match abandoned because of drainage issues, resulting in the transfer of two other games and leading to rebuilding of the oval with a new drainage system and an all-weather turf.
There was more strife last January when a twilight New-Zealand-India Twenty20 match marking McLean Park's return to the international men's cricket schedule was partly delayed by the glare for batsmen facing the setting sun, but a Black Caps match against Bangladesh in February went ahead without problems.
City council events manager Kevin Murphy said a report on the sun-strike issue had been recently received and discussions would take place with New Zealand Cricket over such remedies as avoiding dates when the sun-strike was most likely to be a problem.
He said the limited international cricket on McLean Park this summer, in contrast to frequency promised with the allocation of three matches in the 2015 one-day cricket World Cup on what former New Zealand international Gavin Larsen said was the best one-day pitch in the country, is a consequence of a smaller-than-usual international programme this summer.
"This year was always going to be a bit light," he said. "There's no problem with content or New Zealand Cricket and playing at McLean Park. It's all about scheduling."
More tours are scheduled in the next few seasons and the council is talking with NZC over matches to be allocated for next season, and also the Women's Cricket World Cup in 2021.
With fine weather forecast for Napier on Friday, with a maximum daytime temperature of 28C and minimum overnight of 15C, the council and cricket officials are hoping for a crowd of about 6000 at McLean Park as the Black Caps continue their bid for some payback after the 50-overs-a-side Cricket World Cup final debacle in England in July.
England was controversially awarded the superior number of boundaries countback after the scores were tied at both the end of the 50 overs and then a "Super Over".
It was New Zealand's seventh one-day international tie, including two between New Zealand and England both at McLean Park, in 1997 and 2008.
Murphy said crowd potential was based on the 6000 for the series opener in Christchurch, 9000 for Match 2 in Wellington, and 4000 for the third match in Nelson on Tuesday.
New Zealand has figured in five of the 15 tied international matches in the shorter Twenty20 form of the game.
Among those in town for Friday's game is sports entrepreneur David Higgins, of Black Clash promoters Duco Events who said January's charity match, between Team Cricket and Team Rugby and involving stars of both sports, had been awarded to Napier in the face of interest from several other cities.
"Last year was a bit of an experience," he said. "It sold out Hagley Park Oval in Christchurch, and (shown free-to-air by TVNZ) had the biggest cricket viewing audience of the summer in New Zealand."
It's now expected to be held annually, alternating between the North and South Islands and shared among different venues.