England tickets proving popular

Cricket lovers have already snapped up 1500 tickets for the four-day pre-test match between England and the New Zealand XI in Queenstown this month.

Lakes Leisure events and venues manager J.

D. Marrable said the pitch was looking great and preparations were under way for the world's second-ranked test playing nation to arrive.

Mr Marrable said ticket sales had already exceeded expectations as he would be satisfied with 2000 over the entire four days.

The venue can host up to 15,000 people, although the New Year's Eve match only attracted 2500.

The English test specialists will arrive in Queenstown on February 21. The remainder of the side, who are involved in the one-day internationals and twenty/20 matches, are due on February 25.

Mr Marrable said a lot of work had gone into the grounds and pitch from the turf management team for the English side and the four-day match.

The warm-up match will begin on Wednesday, February 27, ahead of golf's NZ PGA Championship at The Hills in Arrowtown, which will start on the Thursday and continue through to Sunday.

Mr Marrable did not think the two would clash as the golf was expected to peak on the Saturday, after the cricket has reached a result.

''The golf really kicks off on the Saturday.

''There are a lot of purists coming up for the cricket from Invercargill and Dunedin to see one of the best sides in the world.''