[singlepic id=167 w=320 h=240 float=right]Australian quick bowler Brett Lee could be charging in with anger at the Aorangi Oval just before Christmas.
New Zealand Cricket has just announced the South Canterbury Cricket Association is to host two first-class games this season, with both a one-dayer and Twenty20 match scheduled for the Aorangi Oval.
The Canterbury Wizards will play the Wellington Firebirds on Thursday, December 23, in a Twenty20 contest starting at 2pm
Lee, who retired from test cricket earlier this year, confirmed through his manager he was ready and willing to play in New Zealand’s Twenty20 competition after being approached by both Canterbury and Wellington.
Lee’s manager Neil Maxwell said if it fitted into his schedule, he would take up the offer.
“He’s only got two domestic one-day games during December and if he wants to be ready for the England ODIs in January, then he’s going to need to be playing consistently throughout the summer.”
Wellington would appear to have the inside running, with coach Anthony Stuart a former NSW team-mate who played in Lee’s state debut.
Canterbury are also understood to be on the verge of signing another Australian fast bowler, Shaun Tait, who is also unavailable for the Ashes series.
The presence of Lee and Tait would boost numbers at Aorangi Oval.
SCCA president Andrew McRae said they were delighted to again host provincial cricket at Aorangi.
“The hard work in renovating the changing rooms and maintaining the quality of the playing surface has paid off.”
McRae said the season’s main event will be the Twenty20 fixture against Wellington.
“It is a great opportunity for the Timaru community to choose to celebrate their last days of work prior to the Christmas period at Aorangi Oval watching a game that could well include international stars such as Shaun Tait and Brett Lee.
“This will be a magnificent opportunity for the cricketing fraternity of South Canterbury to see real stars in our own backyard.”
McRae said they were working on corporate packages that could double as Christmas functions for businesses.
The chairman was unsure whether New Zealand internationals would be available.
“Given the developments in England presently, with the Pakistan national side, I am unable to say whether the New Zealand players will be available over that period as the home series against Pakistan is due to commence on 26 December.”
McRae said the mid-week 50-over game on February 2 against the Volts Otago also presented as an exciting opportunity.
“Last year the game resulted in almost 800 runs being scored in a match that went down to the wire.
“The traditional Canterbury-Otago rivalry will ensure an event not to be missed on Aorangi.”
McRae said with the fixture list confirmed South Canterbury Cricket will go into overdrive to plan for the events.