20 Jun 2018

Black Caps back in Boxing Day Test

7:49 pm on 20 June 2018

New Zealand Cricket has confirmed the Black Caps will play the Boxing Day test match in Melbourne next year for the first time in 32 years.

New Zealand cricketers celebrate a series win over England 2018.

New Zealand cricketers celebrate a series win over England 2018. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The news New Zealand and Australia will do battle in one of cricket's most anticipated annual matches next year came as the national body confirmed their flagship team's fixtures as part of the Future Tours Programme (FTP).

The FTP, covering all men's international cricket from 2018 to 2023, is the first to incorporate the new one-day international and Test structures, with the former providing automatic World Cup qualification for the top eight-ranked sides.

The latter culminates in the inaugural World Test Championship final in England in June 2021.

Under the new system, the Black Caps first involvement in the Test Championship (WTC) will start in Sri Lanka in August next year.

They will then play two home Tests against England, after which they will cross the Tasman for a much-awaited three-Test series in Australia, including New Zealand's first Boxing Day Test at the famous Melbourne Cricket ground in 32 years since 1987.

New Zealand's 2019-20 summer programme will also include two home Tests against the current No.1 seeds, India, and a home T20 series against Australia.

Nine top-ranked sides will participate in the inaugural edition of the World Test Championship, which will run from July, 2019 to April, 2021.

The sides will play six series in the two-year cycle on a home and away basis against opponents they have mutually selected. The two top-ranked sides will then progress to the June, 2021 final to decide the World Test champions.

In addition, the 12 Test playing nations and the Netherlands, will participate in the 13-team ODI League, which will run from May 2020 to March 2022.

All the sides will play eight series over a two-year cycle on a home and away basis against mutually agreed opponents.

The Black Caps have tailored their schedule to match the requirements of the several major tournaments on the roster, namely the World Cups (50 overs) in 2019 and 2023, and the World T20s in 2020 and 2021.

NZC chief executive David White said cricket fans in New Zealand could look forward to a strong mix of international content at home, as well as greater interest in Tests and ODIs not involving the Black Caps.

White said he was pleased with the Black Caps upcoming international programme in terms of the variety and quality on offer.

"There are a number of highlights there, with all the marquee teams visiting and some eagerly awaited contests looming - not least those 2019-20 Tests against England, Australia and India."

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said the new FTP represented a solid move in the right direction for world cricket and was packed full of content over all three formats.

"It's exciting for fans and players to see the new context which is being given to ODI and Test cricket," said Williamson.

"There's a lot to look forward to, but it's hard to go past the three match Test series in Australia next year as a highlight. I think all New Zealanders will have a circle around that one."

The Black Caps play Pakistan away in October-November of this year before returning home to host visits from Sri Lanka, India, and Bangladesh.

NZC have said they will release the full schedule for the upcoming home summer, including dates and venues, in the near future.