Cricketers participate in a moment of silence at Eden's Park to remember those killed in the Christchurch earthquake. -Photo by AP

WELLINGTON: Auckland's Eden Park will host test cricket for the first time since 2006, when the world's top-ranked team, England, tour New Zealand early next year.

The park was revamped for the 2011 rugby World Cup, and though it did host limited overs internationals, it was left off the test schedule while undergoing the redevelopment.

Since then, test matches have been hosted at smaller boutique grounds; the likes of Napier's McLean Park, Hamilton's Seddon Park or University Oval in Dunedin.

Organizers were mindful of the large contingent of traveling England fans when choosing the venue, as it has a capacity of about 46,000 and last hosted the West Indies in 2006.

“We felt the England tour presented a good opportunity to allocate a match to our largest city,” said NZC chief executive, David White.

“An inbound England tour brings in a large number of supporters who create a wonderful atmosphere, and we are sure the people of Auckland will turn out in force to see two quality teams in what promises to be a fantastic occasion.”

New Zealand's second largest city of Christchurch will not host any matches after an earthquake in 2011 badly affected the main cricket and rugby venue at Lancaster Park. However; England will play a four-day match against a New Zealand XI in Queenstown, before the first test in Dunedin.

“We felt it was important to schedule an international match in the South Island, and a test match at University Oval was the logical choice,” White added.

“It was 1966 when the England team last played a test match in Dunedin so I'm sure the locals will get behind the event.” England itinerary

Feb 04                 v New Zealand XI, Twenty20 match, Whangarei Feb 06                 v New Zealand XI, Twenty20 match, Whangarei Feb 09                 v New Zealand, 1st Twenty20 international, Auckland Feb 12                  v New Zealand, 2nd Twenty20 international, Hamilton Feb 15                  v New Zealand, 3rd Twenty20 international, Wellington Feb 17                  v New Zealand, 1st ODI, Hamilton Feb 20                  v New Zealand, 2nd ODI, Napier Feb 23                  v New Zealand, 3rd ODI, Auckland Feb 27-Mar 02 v New Zealand XI, four-day match, Queenstown Mar 06-Mar 10 v New Zealand, 1st test, Dunedin Mar 14-Mar  18 v New Zealand, 2nd test, Wellington Mar 22-Mar 26 v New Zealand, 3rd test, Auckland

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