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Official figures aren’t available but New Zealand Cricket boss David White reckons “every second Kiwi” will be on hand when 32 long years waiting to play a Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground ends on Boxing Day.
The second of a highly-anticipated three-Test series has been the centrepiece of a tidal wave of interest since confirmation the Black Caps will be the main course of Australia’s home summer for the first time since 1987.
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Warne gives Smith slips tips
Cricket: Shane Warne gives Steve Smith some slips tips ahead of the third day against Pakistan in Adelaide.
Anecdotally, a smattering of New Zealand fans will be on hand for the opening day-night Test in Perth starting next week.
But White would be surprised if the MCG isn’t weighed down by plane loads of his countrymen, starved for so long of one of the biggest games on the calendar.
“Every second Kiwi you bump into says they’re going to be in Melbourne on Boxing Day,” White told AAP on Monday.
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“The players feel good about it too. We’ve got a good Test record, it’s one of the great occasions and I think our players would be confident against anyone they play.”
White refuses to criticise Cricket Australia for a snub that stretches back a generation.
Since the thrilling 1987 trans-Tasman draw, England have played eight Boxing Day Tests, India six, the West Indies and South Africa five each, Pakistan four and Sri Lanka two.
“I wouldn’t say it’s disappointing. We’re looking forward and everyone’s very excited about the opportunity,” White said.
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“Over the last four or five years we’ve had a close working relationship with Cricket Australia.
“We’ve had good content with the Chappell-Hadlee series and we came together for the first ever day-night Test (in Adelaide).”
White said New Zealand’s emergence as a Test force played a part in the scheduling.
They’re ranked second in the world and have forged an enviable home record in particular.
Their most recent Test results in Australia haven’t been flattering but White believed that wouldn’t impact on the confidence of the Kane Williamson-led side.
Steve Smith and Kane Williamson back in 2015.Source:Getty Images
“We’ve been very consistent over a long period now. There are different fans attracted to the different formats of international cricket and there’s still a lot of New Zealanders who rate Tests as the pinnacle,” White said.
“We are a big drawcard now and as I understand it, it’s reflected in the ticket sales.” The Black Caps lead their current home series against England and will end their power-packed summer by hosting world No.1 India in two Tests.
Originally published asFans set to flock to see New Zealand end 32-year Boxing Day drought
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