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Ken Borland

NZ’s rampant form in Christchurch good reason for them to host both SA Tests there

Posted on February 25, 2022 by Ken

Notwithstanding the continued frustrations of Covid, there is very good reason for New Zealand to host both their forthcoming Test matches against South Africa at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch: The ground is a fortress for the Black Caps.

The Proteas were originally scheduled to play the second Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington, but because the series will be played in a bio-bubble – New Zealand are currently battling the spread of Omicron – both matches are now in Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island.

And since the Hagley Oval became the venue of choice for international matches in Canterbury in 2014, New Zealand have lost just one of their 10 Tests there – against Australia in 2016. They have been in rampant form in their last four games there – beating Bangladesh and Pakistan by an innings, India by seven wickets and Sri Lanka by 423 runs.

Speaking of rampant, opening batsman Tom Latham has scored 864 runs at an average of 57.60 in nine Tests at Hagley Oval, while ferocious 6’8 fast bowler Kyle Jamieson has taken 22 wickets at 13.36 in three Tests there. Which suggests pace and bounce will come into play.

South Africa have only played two Tests in Christchurch, both of them at the old Lancaster Park rather than Hagley Oval. They won by an innings in 1932 in the inaugural Test between the two countries and then drew in 1999 when Herschelle Gibbs cruised to 211 not out and Jacques Kallis stroked 148*.

The success of Jamieson, Tim Southee and Trent Boult (both of whom average 21 at the ground) at Hagley Oval suggests the Proteas pacemen will be as happy as the songbirds in the adjacent botanical gardens.

But there has also been heavy run-scoring at Hagley Oval, with both Latham and Kane Williamson scoring big double-hundreds in 2022 and 2021 respectively, and there have been six other scores of more than 150 since 2014.

So that will please a South African batting line-up that might be getting a bit frustrated with the extremely sporty pitches they have had to play on at home in recent years.

The Proteas leave for New Zealand on Wednesday evening and the first Test starts on February 17.

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