The newly-developed ground that underwent a $9 million makeover is set to host the opening match of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup between New Zealand and Sri Lanka
Aside from the domestic programme and the Boxing Day Test, the ground will host three ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 matches including the opening match between Sri Lanka and New Zealand on February 14. With the Hadlee Pavilion and temporary seating, the ground's capacity is now close to 20,000 ahead of the tournament.
"Typically a city the size of Christchurch might not have got the opening game and the opening ceremony, but they have," said ICC Cricket World Cup Head of New Zealand Therese Walsh to Sunday Star Times. "That is in recognition of the special type of role that they are going to play.
"We had to put an asterix next to the city . . . because there was no international cricket stadium in Christchurch. Obviously AMI Stadium was unable to be used and there was no other international cricket venue. The thinking at that time was that Canterbury Cricket would take an existing oval in Hagley Park and make it into not just a first-class venue but an international venue. There were a lot of challenges with it.
"Even as of last Christmas, I felt very concerned that there needed to be a lot more progress," she added. "I think of all the things with Cricket World Cup it has been the one we have lost the most sleep about. We always knew the prize was big if we could get there. It's going to be quite a proud moment."
According to New Zealand Cricket's head of cricket, Lindsay Crocker, the Boxing Day clash is the first of many games to be held there.
'We've been through several of these recently at Nelson, Whangarei and Mt Maunganui, so we know what to expect and what they expect and we're pretty sure we, well, Canterbury Cricket, have got our bases covered,'' Crocker was quoted saying by a New Zealand website. ''This is a great setting and this is a serious Test match ground.''
Dunedin's University Oval picked up the Test match slack due to the absence of a ground in Christchurch, which last hosted a Test in December 2006.
However, the official International Cricket Council approval for the ground will be received next month when Roshan Mahanama, the ICC match referee, will be in New Zealand for the One-Day International series between New Zealand and South Africa. He is scheduled to visit Christchurch on October 19 to give it the ICC sign-off.
If the ICC approves of the ground and the available facilities, as anticipated, Hagley Oval will be considered as one of New Zealand's leading Test venues along with Hamilton's Seddon Park and Wellington's Basin Reserve.
''I think it's highly unlikely we'll run Boxing Day Tests [regularly], this was just the way it panned out with the Cricket World Cup this summer, but this is certainly in contention for future Tests,'' Crocker said. ''There will be plenty of contests here and it's a bit of a dual-purpose ground."
In what is expected to be a busy summer, Canterbury is set to play domestic matches at the ground. The first match will be played between Scotland and Canterbury on October 17.