University Oval

The University Oval is a sports ground located at Logan Park, Dunedin, New Zealand, and owned by the Dunedin City Council. The ground was originally owned by the University of Otago, but ownership was transferred to the city council when a redevelopment was completed in the early 2000s.

The ground is the home of both the Otago Cricket Association and the University of Otago Rugby Football Club, and is also used as a training base for the Highlanders Rugby Football team. The University Oval hosted the first game where the Umpire Decision Review System was used. It was that third test between Pakistan v New Zealand when it was first used in international cricket.

Facilities

A media complex, which consists of television and radio commentary rooms, is situated at the northern end of the ground. Temporary scaffolding for television cameras is built at both ends of the ground (above the media complex, and on the bank at the southern end) when required. A historic grandstand is located at the southern end of the ground, and an electronic scoreboard on the north-eastern side.

The grandstand complex includes changing rooms, members’ rooms, lounges and bars, players’ viewing areas, a medical room, kitchens, offices, umpires’ rooms, a canteen and shop, media rooms and storage rooms. A building attached to the rear hosts the University Rugby Club.

International Cricket
First Test

The University Oval became New Zealand's seventh test ground when it hosted its first test match on January 4, 2008, between New Zealand and Bangladesh. This was Dunedin's first Test match for ten years. NZ$6 million was spent refurbishing the University Oval and it has now replaced Carisbrook as Dunedin's test-cricket venue.

Just one month prior to the Test match, a State Championship match between Auckland and Otago, which was scheduled to last four days, ended in less than two due to an under-prepared pitch. Auckland scored 94 and 128 and Otago 170 and 54 for 4. Auckland Coach, Mark O'Donnell, had this to say about the pitch:

O'Donnell also said that those claiming that the pitch was not at fault and that poor batting had played a large part in proceedings were "deluding themselves".

As a result, New Zealand Cricket sent its chief turf assessor, Jarrod Carter, to Dunedin to help the local groundsman, Tom Tamati, prepare the test pitch. Although the University Oval's first test finished inside three days that was largely attributed to poor batting by most of the Bangladeshis rather than to the nature of the pitch: New Zealand scored 357 and the Bangladeshi openers had a 161-run partnership in the second innings. After the match Daniel Vettori, New Zealand's captain, said:

Second Test

From December 11 to 15, 2008, New Zealand played the West Indies at the University Oval. The match was ruined by rain. The ground's drainage and the ability of the ground staff to cope with rain were criticized.

Dylan Cleaver, writing in the NZ Herald under the headline "Dunedin not fit to stage a test" stated:

Dylan further described the University Oval as a "club ground".

Ross Dykes, the Otago Cricket Association chief executive, said the article was insulting to Dunedin, the University Oval and the groundstaff. He confirmed the ground had drainage problems, because it had been built on reclaimed land, but rejected criticism of New Zealand Cricket or the ground staff:

Third Test

The University Oval hosted its third Test match from November 24 to 28, 2009, against Pakistan. Play was briefly interrupted by rain on the second day, and bad light plagued several of the evening sessions, but the problems of the previous Tests did not emerge. The match proved to be a cliffhanger, with a win to either side, a draw or even a tie still possible as the fifth day entered its final session. New Zealand eventually won by 32 runs, taking Pakistan's last five wickets for 54 runs in the final session of day five. The Test was hailed by some as the test of the year, notably by Sambit Bal writing for Cricinfo:

Footnotes