Cricket: Dykes readies 'sold-out' sign

Otago Cricket Association chief executive Ross Dykes is confident of displaying the ''sold-out'' sign on Sunday.

Ticket sales have been brisk for the HRV Cup final between the red-hot Otago Volts and either Wellington or Auckland.

The University Oval will have a capacity of about 3400, and 1745 tickets had sold by yesterday.

Dykes said the pitch - it will be the same one used for Tuesday's game between Otago and Canterbury - would be good, and he understood the weather forecast was promising.

''Perhaps, if anything, the only worry is we might see our capacity stretched a bit. But that's a good problem to have,''Dykes said.

The ground's capacity will be boosted to about 5400 for the test between New Zealand and England in March.

Wags might suggest the Black Caps will need to buy bulk tickets themselves after their capitulation in South Africa, but Dykes does not believe their abysmal test performances will translate to poor sales.

''Sales are up to about 1000 for the test. I thought the numbers were a bit skimpy but New Zealand Cricket feel they are quite good for pre-sales.

''We understand there's a lot of interest from English tour groups yet to be cast in stone, so we're really hopeful our capacity will be stretched or pushed.

''I know there's been a bit of negativity towards the Black Caps. But I think there's still a hugely positive feeling about the University Oval and the ambience it offers.''

Someone feeling positive after his first - and, likely, only - taste of the Oval was Australian fast bowler Brett Lee.

The speedster made a cameo appearance for Otago on Tuesday and will now be available should the Volts win on Sunday and qualify for the Champions League.

''Brett said he felt really warmly supported here. He was revved up by our crowd, which says a bit,'' Dykes said.

''We're very keen to have him again. Not only can he can bowl sandshoe crushers at 145kmh but he's also got a wonderful attitude. No pretensions at all.''