Cricket: Blackcaps hope 'fast-drying' Bay Oval can deliver series-opener against England

As Cyclone Gabrielle wreaks havoc on parts of the upper North Island, the Blackcaps are assembling at Mount Maunganui before the first test against England.

With the wild weather disrupting flights, players are having to take alternative routes to Tauranga, with several yet to arrive.

But Blackcaps coach Gary Stead hopes Bay Oval will be ready in time and pointed out the insignificance of the potentially rain-affected match, with Kiwis facing far more trying circumstances.

"We've got a number of players that are still arriving here at the moment," he said. "The cyclone that's happening at the top of the North Island has had an impact on travel for people.

"We've also got a couple of players at the moment... one's [partner] has just given birth and another one is in labour as we speak, I think, so it's exciting for our team and growing people as well.

"It's disappointing [that][ the weather is the way that it is, but there is a lot more people worse off at the top of the North Island than we are.

"A number of them of driving at the moment as well. Originally, we planned to have an evening session training, but we managed to get in a touch earlier.

"They were just worried that the winds might get up to such a point, we wouldn't be able to train later on.

"It's a bit early to say about that, it's one of the fastest drying grounds I think you will ever, ever see in the world. It's incredible, when it stops raining, you're just about able to get out there straight away.

"We're always trying to play for winning cricket and for matches that have results, but let's see where it ends up."

With the first day/night test just days away, England's fast bowlers have expressed their concern over the use of the pink ball, but while not any more experienced than the tourists with the pink ball, Stead is not nearly as daunted by the task.

"I think we're always looking for something to exploit, if that's the case, but we haven't played a lot of pink-ball test matches ourselves," he said.

"We've only played the one in New Zealand and that was verse England at Eden Park, so we don't have a lot of experience in our country. It's more overseas when we get to have that go.

"It's different, we start at different times and that adds an element of excitement, I think, not just for the players, but for the crowds as well."

Join us Thursday for live updates of the first test between New Zealand and England