Eden Park gearing up for cricket double-header

Source: 1News

Would you believe it has been five months since the main ground at Eden Park hosted a sporting event?

Between bursts of Covid, the sporting venue will get a chance to air out over the weekend with a unique double header, with Auckland’s two cricket teams hosting Central Districts in the Super Smash competition.

The match also serves as a return for Black Cap Martin Guptill after a lay off last month with calf muscle issues.

Guptill told 1News he doesn’t expect the niggle to hinder him on Saturday.

“It's feeling strong now and got through training today,” Guptill said. “No issues - we're good to go.”

It’s been a frustrating month for Guptill though, as he was going to be fully fit for the now-cancelled white ball tour of Australia.

Cricket New Zealand announced earlier this week the series couldn’t go ahead due to the ongoing Covid restrictions in place at the border, but Auckland’s 35-year-old opener still managed to find a silver lining.

“It's been a career of chasing summers, being on planes, airports and hotels,” he said.

“It’s nice to spend a bit of time at home.”

The Covid cancellation means Guptill can play in the first provincial cricket game on Eden Park’s No.1 in eight years, although there’s another Auckland-born Black Cap looking to spin the Aces out of the game.

Not required for the Black Caps’ recent Test series against Bangladesh on New Zealand’s pace-dominant pitches, Ajaz Patel has been playing for the Stags the majority of the season.

Despite the change of format, his Mumbai Test aura is still with him in the T20 scene.

“I’ve had a few calls saying, ‘are you gonna get a 10-for today?’” Patel said. “I can only try.”

The double header on Saturday also features the two respective women's teams in an afternoon of cricket free for essential workers.

Auckland batter Katie Perkins said acknowledging those who have been vital to keeping New Zealand functioning over the past two years is the least they could do.

“It’s just a really nice way to say thank you to them,” she said.