It gets better every year

As of last week, Mount Maunganui’s Bay Oval is our newest Test ground, and it’s certainly the most ambitious.

Impatient to get international cricket (tick), lights (tick) and now Tests, the only thing left must be a day/night Test, which can’t be far away.

Those drone shots coming in over Blake Park’s southern end, taking in the the oval, light towers and sprawling banks before cruising out to the peninsula, harbour and Mauao with maybe a cruise ship or two are probably the sexiest tourism advertisement for New Zealand since David Lange hit Oxford Union.

Crossing the bridge to the Mount makes you feel like you’re on holiday anyway, and with the option of throwing yourself in the ocean or strolling up to a number of inviting watering holes at close of play, it’s hard to beat as a day out.

Thousands of cricket tragics, families and the barmy army rolled up for all five days in the Bay of Plenty heat. I snuck over on the Monday afternoon for the end and there were thousands there anticipating a famous New Zealand win.

New Zealand is ridiculously well served for Test cricket grounds with Hagley Oval, University Oval and the Basin Reserve (the daddy of them all) jostling for fixtures with Northern Districts’ Bay Oval and Seddon Park (Whanageri would probably do a great job too). Auckland needs to get Western Springs sorted out and get in the game and fast.

You can’t beat a kick-the-jandals-off vibe for Tests. Grass banks let you mooch around where you please - following the sun, catching up with mates or perusing the hot dog options are no hassle.

We’re lucky to have these 'boutique grounds’ developing and pushing each other to get better. If you’re near the Bay of Plenty over the summer, I highly recommend getting to Bay Oval to see it done properly.

Thanks for reading - Richard

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