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New Zealand Cricket appear to be pushing ahead with plans to trial day-night first class matches as they build towards hosting their inaugural pink ball home Test against England in 2018.
NZC released their 2016/17 domestic fixture list on Tuesday and Wellington Regional Stadium, which has never hosted a first class match and has been used solely for day-night limited-overs international cricket, is to host one of the Plunket Shield games scheduled to begin on March 6.
Auckland’s Eden Park and Hamilton’s Seddon Park, both of which have lights, will also host matches starting on March 6.
All three games have not had their start times confirmed, while every other Plunket Shield match in the 2016/17 season has a traditional start time of 10:30 am (2130 GMT).
Only one of the other venues scheduled to host first class cricket this season, Napier’s McLean Park, has lights. All of the Plunket Shield matches there are scheduled as day games.
NZC has said they hoped to play their first day-night test match at home against England in 2018.
New Zealand played Australia in the inaugural day-night test in Adelaide last year and while the ball swung appreciably and batsmen said they found it difficult to see after twilight, administrators felt the interest generated had been sufficient to continue to explore the concept.
Next year’s Plunket Shield matches should give NZC the opportunity to test the conditions likely to be faced by both sides in 2018, with the England tour pencilled in for mid-February to late March.
Eden Park has been designated the first test on that tour, with the second at Christchurch’s Hagley Oval, which does not have lights.
NZC had considered holding a round of first class day-night matches earlier this year with an eye to playing one of their tests against South Africa next March with the pink ball, but had to scrap the idea after McLean Park’s lights were deemed not strong enough.