Opinion: Kiwi cricket fans right to feel cheated by 2023 home summer fixtures

OPINION: If you're reading NZ Cricket's 2022/23 summer home schedule and scratching your head, you aren't the only one.

While on paper, tours by England and India for the Blackcaps, and two white-ball series against Bangladesh for the White Ferns make for good reading, there's more to the announcement than meets the eye.

In reality, Kiwi fans should be disappointed by the offering served up, starting in - of all times - October.

On October 7, the Blackcaps' home season will commence with a Twenty20 tri-series against Pakistan and Bangladesh - held entirely at Christchurch within the space of seven days.

The Blackcaps play only four tests at home this summer.
The Blackcaps play only four tests at home this summer. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

Again, this can make for good reading, giving all three sides some pretty important match practice before the T20 World Cup in Australia beginning October 16, but the reality is we don't know how viable these matches will be, given the fact they're scheduled for spring.

For context, by the time the first ball of the 'summer' is bowled, we'll also be bracing for the first of the four NPC quarter-finals, because October is, in fact, still rugby season.

After the World Cup, the Blackcaps will return home for three one-dayers and three T20s against India. 

And while this should have fans excited to see some of the world's best players on our shores, there is more to this than meets the eye.

To accommodate India's vast television audience - the standard by which every major decision in cricket seems to be made - fans heading to the matches at Wellington, Mt Maunganui, Napier, Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch might need to plan.

All three of the T20s will start at 7:30pm, slotting nicely into India's TV window, even if that means finish times of about 10:30pm. The ODIs will all start at 2:30pm, potentially seeing the same problem.

With three of the six matches held on school nights, good luck taking your kids along.

At the very least, it's better than India's tour here two years ago, when 8pm start times saw matches finishing close to midnight.

The Blackcaps celebrate against the Netherlands.
The Blackcaps celebrate against the Netherlands. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

Those fixtures are slightly excusable given the need to bend to India's will, but the next arranged matches for the Blackcaps aren't.

Instead of the traditional Boxing Day and New Year fixtures, the Blackcaps will spend the better part of the festive period in Pakistan.

Admittedly inconvenient for home fans, the need to play two tests and three ODIs in Pakistan during the peak summer period definitely outweighs the desire to play them at home.

After last year's white-ball tour was cancelled at the last minute, due to a security threat against the Blackcaps, NZ Cricket needs to stay in Pakistan's good books. 

As the cricket world shifts more and more in favour of the 'Big Three' nations of India, Australia and England, Pakistan is an ally NZ Cricket can't lose.

Still, replacing the argument over which of the Basin Reserve or Hagley Oval is NZ's best ground over the summer, with the benefits of Rawalpindi v Lahore v Karachi just won't be the same.

Not to mention that Pakistan's climate, more or less, allows them to host matches all year round, like Australia's tour their last March - their winter.

The Blackcaps won't play on home soil from the end of November to mid-February, missing the whole festive period, but the White Ferns series against Bangladesh will give Kiwi fans a chance to view our women's side during their exciting rebuild under new coach Ben Sawyer, potentially as Commonwealth Games medallists.

Two Blackcaps tests against England in mid-February should stand as the summer's highlight for the purists, with another taste of pink-ball cricket on Kiwi soil at Bay Oval. 

Pakistan will host the Blackcaps over the peak of the Kiwi summer.
Pakistan will host the Blackcaps over the peak of the Kiwi summer. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

The only downside is it falls outside the World Test Championship window, so England sending a B-team isn't beyond the realm of possibility.

Finally, the Blackcaps' summer ends in March, also known as autumn. Two tests against Sri Lanka will take the total to four over the home season for the second year in a row, a reflection of New Zealand's standing in the game's hierarchy. 

These two matches will serve as the Blackcaps' final series in the defence of the first World Test Championship, won last July, but by that point they'll more or less be dead rubbers - probably for both sides.

The end of March and start of April will see the climax of the summer, with three more ODIs and three more T20s to end Sri Lanka's tour.

There's one problem, the 2023 edition of the IPL is pencilled in to start towards the end of March - the same time as the white ball fixtures.

Last summer we saw a second-string Blackcaps side play against the Netherlands, while some of our best jetted off to India and there's a genuine possibility it'll happen again.

So while a festive period of T20 Super Smash will have to make do for now, we've been given another painful reminder of how the game in New Zealand stands at the moment.

Ah well, there's always 2023/24.

Alex Powell is a Newshub sport digital producer