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Jump for joy – a four-test series

Ian Anderson

The Black Caps are set to play a four-test series in Australia for the first time – and more than 50 years since their trans-Tasman rivals deemed New Zealand worthy of playing again.

The New Zealand men’s cricket side were scheduled to play three tests in Australia in the 2026-27 season as part of the ICC’s Future Tours Programme.

But the desire for Cricket Australia to play the traditional Boxing Day test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, along with a 150th anniversary match against England in March at the same venue, has seen an extra test added to the planned series, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

That’s in stark contrast to Australia’s scheduled test ‘tour’ of New Zealand in February-March, with Pat Cummins’ side to play just two tests – at the Basin Reserve in Wellington and Hagley Oval in Christchurch – even though the combatants are the former and current World Test Championship winners.

The last time New Zealand played a fourtest series came in England in 1999, when they sealed a 2-1 series victory with an 83-run win at The Oval in the fourth test.

Since the introduction of one-day internationals and T20s, the test series schedule has been reduced, but the big three of international cricket – India, Australia and England – still contest five-test series between them as they draw significant financial returns from broadcast deals.

New Zealand will be the main drawcard for Australia’s home international season in 2026-27 after having long been seen as the poor cousin of international cricket by their neighbours.

Australia didn’t play an official test against New Zealand until 1946 – 16 years after New Zealand entered the test arena. The home side were hammered in Wellington

by an innings and 103 runs after making just 42 and 54 in their two turns at bat, which prompted Australia not to play New Zealand again until 1973.

New Zealand’s first test win over Australia came in Christchurch in 1974 when centuries in both innings from opener Glenn Turner helped the hosts to a five-wicket triumph. Their first series win came in 1985, with victories in Brisbane (when

Richard Hadlee took 9-52 in Australia’s first innings) and Perth.

They followed that up with a 1-0 series win at home in 1986, but New Zealand have scored just eight wins in 60 trans-Tasman tests, with Australia victorious on 34 occasions, with 18 drawn matches.

The Black Caps had a gap of 32 years between Boxing Day tests at the MCG – from 1987 to 2019 – yet more than 80,000

spectators attended day one of that encounter on December 26, 2019; the biggest of all non-Ashes Boxing Day crowds.

When the two-match series between the two teams in New Zealand is held later this summer, it will be eight years after Australia’s last test visit to these shores – the longest the Black Caps have had to wait to host their trans-Tasman rivals for a redball series since 1974.






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