The first Test between New Zealand and Pakistan at Hagley Oval is expected to go ahead as scheduled on November 17, despite Christchurch having suffered a 7.5 magnitude earthquake, just after midnight on Monday.
The Pakistan men’s team, who were in Nelson when the quake occurred, reported being a little shaken by the experience, but will prepare for Thursday’s Test as usual.
“Preparations for the Test are going ahead, but we are continuing to monitor the situation,” a New Zealand Cricket spokesperson said. “It’s just a case of staying in touch with authorities.”
Both teams arrived in Christchurch on Monday and have training sessions scheduled for Tuesday. The area continued to be hit by aftershocks, however. A 6.3 magnitude quake was felt at around 1.30pm on Monday, and these are expected to continue through the next week.
Pakistan team manager Wasim Bari said NZC had assured his side of their safety, in the team hotel and at the ground. The cricketers had spent a largely sleepless night in Nelson. They had evacuated their hotel when the quake hit, and most had not returned to their rooms for the remainder of the night, electing instead to remain in the reception area.
“For us it was something new because we don’t have many earthquakes in Pakistan,” Bari said. “This was a pretty strong one. We’d just finished watching the India-England match and the doors and windows were going from one side to another as if they were made of paper. There was some trauma as well for the boys. Back home, the families had felt disturbed.”
The Pakistan women’s team, meanwhile, had ridden out the quake in the upper floors of a Christchurch hotel. Their manager Basit Ali told Geo News that the team was safe, though “still scared”.
The New Zealand men’s squad had only assembled in Christchurch on Monday morning, but fast bowler Matt Henry – a Christchurch native – had been in the city overnight. He described the experience as “a bit scary”, but was pleased the Test would go ahead.
“It always brings the community together – provides a brief moment of normality,” Henry said. “It’s probably good timing to have the Test match this week. Hopefully the weather plays it’s part.”
The epicentre of the earthquake was at a depth of about 5km, about 40km from the town of Amberley, which is only about 90km north-east of Hagley Oval. Hagley Oval had become a Test venue after the previous Christchurch ground was devastated by an earthquake in 2011.