It’s been 32 years since New Zealand played Test cricket against Australia at the MCG, but the Black Caps are returning in a bid to claim victory in one of the most highly anticipated series in recent memory. The Kiwis have become a force to be reckoned with in all formats of the game and will challenge an inspired Australian squad in a three-match series this December.
The Kiwis have surged to second place in the ICC rankings after 12 months of excellent form under captain Kane Williamson and coach Gary Stead, three places and ten rating points clear of the Aussies at number five. Australia may have the world’s top ranked batsman and bowler in Steve Smith and Pat Cummins, but New Zealand’s fearsome squad featuring the likes of Williamson, Henry Nicholls, Tom Latham, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner will have plenty to say about that.
The Boxing Day Test in Melbourne will be the second match of the series, with the first being played as a day/night Test in Perth and the third in Sydney in the new year.
The Trans-Tasman Trophy returns to the MCG
The famous Trans-Tasman Trophy has been the focus of Australia and New Zealand’s Test cricket rivalry since it was introduced in 1985. The Black Caps enjoyed much of the spoils and held the trophy for six of the eight years until 1993, thanks in part to the dominance of legendary fast bowler Sir Richard Hadlee. But it’s been all Australia since then, with the men in baggy green winning all but two drawn series and therefore retaining the trophy for 25 years and counting. That’s not the only history on the side of the Aussies: New Zealand has only won a Test series on Australian soil once, and that was in 1985. As for the MCG, the Black Caps have only played three Tests there. It was 1987 when they last stepped onto the grass at the iconic colosseum for a match of red ball cricket, and it’s one many tragics will remember. With their backs against the wall, Australia’s Mike Whitney and Craig McDermott clung on for a draw in a final wicket partnership that withstood the relentless attack of Hadlee, widely considered one of the finest bowlers in the history of the sport.
But for New Zealand, this is all just that: history. The current squad is a far cry from those that have travelled across the ditch in recent decades, having achieved the number two ICC ranking for the first time in their history. They have lost just three of their last 20 Test matches under captain Kane Williamson, breaking another record in the process by winning four series in a row. Indeed, Williamson had marked the series on the calendar as far back as last year. “It’s hard to go past the three match Test series in Australia as a highlight,” he admitted when the fixture was released in 2018. “I think all New Zealanders will have a circle around that one.”
How to get tickets for Australia vs New Zealand
Tickets for the first four days of the Boxing Day Test are now available through Ticketek with a gold coin donation for entry on the fifth day and all proceeds going to charity. But be warned, tickets for the first day on December 26 are being snatched up fast – and it’s not just the Aussies. If you think England’s Barmy Army is famous for supporting their country on tours around the world, New Zealanders are clearly keen to show they’re just as dedicated. By August, more than four months before the Boxing Day Test, almost half of the 27,000 tickets that had been sold were bought by Kiwis. The anticipation is such that two extra flights have been scheduled to make the journey from Auckland to NZ on December 25 and 26.
The Boundary Social
Those who value the social aspect of the cricket as much as the sport itself should check out The Boundary Social, a new tiered deck area built into the seating of the MCG that resembles more of an outdoor bar or patio than stadium seating. Tickets include access to The Deck with premium views of the ground, a private bar with premium beverages and a menu of gourmet snacks and finger food to gorge on to your heart’s content. To keep up appearances, guests will be expected to dress smart casual and the area is restricted to those 18 years and over.
Accommodation near the MCG
Enjoy the best of both worlds at Fraser Place Melbourne with a stylish and contemporary studio apartment nestled in a prime location just a stone’s throw from the MCG at a price that won’t break the bank. Choose from 112 studio, deluxe, executive and premier rooms and take advantage of the luxury furniture and amenities along with thoughtful open-plan living and immersive views of the city. Between days of play at the MCG, soak up the first rays of summer sun on the rooftop terrace and keep your body guessing at our fully equipped gym before refuelling with a buffet breakfast at the in-house cafe or one of the many nearby eateries that Melbourne is so famous for. Combined with free high-speed WiFi, a private kitchenette and an LCD TV with an entertainment system, Fraser Place Melbourne is an excellent choice for accommodation near the MCG that focuses on value, location and comfort. Be sure to keep an eye out for any limited-time offers and save even more on your booking.