Cricket: New Zealand looms as neutral host for tests

Hagley Oval in Christchurch.
Hagley Oval in Christchurch. Photo credit: Getty

NZ Cricket has reportedly put its hand up to become a neutral venue for test matches.

With no active cases of COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions removed, New Zealand offers a safe haven to stage internationals between countries still grappling with the pandemic.

In April, England & Wales Cricket Board chairman Tom Harrison confirmed New Zealand was one of a handful of countries that had offered to explore the possibility.

NZ Cricket Players' Association chief executive Heath Mills has told England's i newspaper that discussions between NZ Cricket and the ECB are ongoing.

"I could see New Zealand operating as a neutral venue," Mills says. "That's a definite possibility. 

"I know New Zealand Cricket have been in contact with the ECB and others about the potential for that to happen this summer."

Mills adds that New Zealand would welcome such a role, acting in much the same way as the United Arab Emirates has, hosting Pakistan's 'home' tests since 2010, due to terrorism concerns.

"Nothing has been confirmed, but I know there would be a willingness, certainly on the part of New Zealand, to do what it could."

The concept may also extend to other sports.

On Tuesday, US boxing promoter Bob Arum hinted at New Zealand as a potential site for the proposed Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder WBO heavyweight rematch.

"[Fellow promoter Dean Lonergan] tells me there is a possibility that New Zealand will open full stadia and spectators within a very short time," Arum has told Newshub.

"If that's the case and we get some financial support, we would be prepared to come over and do that fight."