Basin Reserve - Wellington Firebirds Ground Guide

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By Cricket Tripper
Last Updated: April 21, 2021

Ground Facts

Opened: 1868
Capacity: 11,600
Names: The Basin
Team: Wellington Firebirds
Address: Wellington

Basin Reserve Cricket Ground is the cricket ground in Wellington, in New Zealand. Commonly known as ‘The Basin’, this ground is home to the Wellington Firebirds first-class team, and is the only cricket ground in New Zealand to have a status of a Historic Place (Category II). This also makes it the oldest Test Match cricket ground in the country.

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The ground is 2 kilometres south of Wellington CBD at the foot of Mount Victoria. The Willington College boys’ school is south of The Basin. To the east is the Mount Victoria Tunnel which increased the flow of traffic around the Basin Reserve Cricket Ground when it was build in 1931.

The area that is now the Basin Reserve Cricket Ground actually used to be a lake, known as the Basin Lake. At the time, there were plans to connect it to the sea, via a canal. This would benefit the town, making the lake an alternative to the city harbour which, back then, was lined with factories and warehouses. However, in 1855, the Wairarapa earthquake turned the lake into a swamp, making the plans void. 2 years later, the largely-British colonists seized the opportunity to drain the land and make it into a recreational reserve.

They had been desperate for an opportunity like this since the other flat lands in the town were being built on, and they had not been allocated a recreational area. The levelling of the Basin Reserve Cricket Ground did not begin until the council allowed it in 1863, when prisoners from the Mount Cook Goal began draining it, levelling the land, putting up a fence around the boundary, and planting hedges alongside the fence.

The building of Basin Reserve Cricket Ground was halted between 1863 and 1869 due to huge increases in the population of the town requiring more infrastructure. Despite this 1866 saw Basin Reserve Cricket Ground become Wellington’s official cricket ground, and the first game was played 2 years later. This game involved Wellington Volunteers playing the crew of HMS Falcon which had docked in Wellington.

Competitors were brought to the region, partly due to the evolving reputation of the Basin Reserve Cricket Ground, but also the fact that the Wellingtonian Caledonian Society (still today based in the southern section of the ground) offered prize money to those who played. This society also built western grandstands which cost £250-300. In 1882 the William Wakefield Memorial was erected at the ground. In 2012 this memorial was closed due to its apparent earthquake risk. The Basin Reserve Cricket Ground has been used for other events such as concerts and social gatherings, however its main, and preferred, use is for Test Match cricket occasions.

The Australasian athletic championships were held in the Basin Reserve Cricket Ground between the 26th and 27th of December 1911. The Australian rugby league team stopped off to play a game at this ground before their 1921-22 Kangaroo Tour of Great Britain. 2011 saw a charitable cricket match played to raise money for the 2011 Canterbury earthquake, resulting in the biggest crowd of the Basin Reserve Cricket Ground’s modern era.

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