Cricket

Eden Park a challenging venue for World Cup cricket

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  • February 27th, 2015
  • 17:15:39 IST

Eden Park, New Zealand's largest stadium, was designed to host rugby matches, not cricket.

So when Australia takes on New Zealand in a Cricket World Cup match on Saturday, New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said the park's rectangular shape and short boundaries will prove to be a challenge to both sides.

Eden Park. Getty

Eden Park. Getty

McCullum said the grounds have their quirks, but he added, "that's the beauty of playing here, as well."

"It serves up different strategies and different tactics and that puts different demands on players with bat, ball and also as a captain."

Eden Park has always been the home of cricket in Auckland. It was the site of New Zealand's first-ever test match victory, over the West Indies in 1956, and hosted the largest-ever crowd to watch a one-day international in the country, when New Zealand played Australia in 1983 in front of 43,000 fans.

But it was originally designed to be a rugby ground — the All Blacks have played test matches here since 1921, including the World Cup finals in 1987 and 2011.

The irregular shape of the grounds will certainly be a factor in both team's preparations for Saturday's critical match between Australia and New Zealand in the Cricket World Cup.

One of the main issues is the way the pitch was recently realigned to now run parallel to the stadium's two largest grandstands, instead of at a diagonal.

The new alignment means that while the square boundaries at the ground are relatively standard, the straight boundaries are extremely short by international standards — so short, in fact, it's not uncommon for a shot edged by a batsman to fly over slips for six.

McCullum said it will be interesting to see how both sides deal with the short boundary from an offensive and defensive standpoint.

"It doesn't mean that every time you hit the ball down the ground you're going to get four or six," McCullum said. "I guess you have to be able to work guys out from a bowling point of view and there are areas that you can try and target from a batting point of view."

"Tomorrow will be a nice quirk to see different tactics installed in this game."

AP

Updated Date: February 27, 2015 17:15:39 IST

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