Indian TV demands could jeopardise Eden Park matches

Section
News,
Publish Date
Saturday, 21 July 2018, 9:39AM
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By: Andrew Alderson

The demands of an Indian broadcaster to have international limited overs matches start an hour later could prevent fans seeing much of the New Zealand cricket team in action at Eden Park this summer.

The Weekend Herald understands the 2018-19 home schedule has been subject to robust debate, particularly the negotiations between New Zealand Cricket and Star Sports.

Last year, Star Sports bought the Indian subcontinental broadcasting rights to Black Caps and White Ferns home matches from 2017 to 2020.

As part of the deal, they are understood to have asked for New Zealand and India's five one-day internationals and three Twenty20s to begin an hour later than usual.

That means ODIs would start at 3pm New Zealand time (7.30am Indian time) and T20s would start at 8pm (12.30pm IT), once daylight savings begins in October.

If a full complement of overs are used, those matches would finish around 11pm - or 3.30pm IT.

The tour is scheduled for late January and early February.

Eden Park can host 25 night events a year. The venue has permission to hold cricket matches with scheduled finish times of 10pm.

Resource consent would be required to extend this time frame.

That could be acquired through the Auckland City Council for what sources described as "a five-figure fee", which would then be subject to public submissions.

Alternatively, the Eden Park Trust could take the issue to the environment court, which would cost in excess of $100,000 and possibly take months to get a decision.

At worst for Auckland fans, that could result in the ground hosting one T20 against India - possibly an afternoon game, or one in the traditional timeslot - and an ODI against Sri Lanka as part of up to 40 days of international cricket this summer.

Auckland is the hub for people of subcontinental heritage in New Zealand, as well as the biggest population. Those fans might have to travel to Hamilton, Tauranga or further afield to sate their appetite.

Eden Park's hireage cost - which the Weekend Herald understands is around $250,000 for an ODI - is unlikely to be a negating factor.

Stadiums tend to brim for India-New Zealand limited overs matches, making them profitable occasions.

NZC are believed to want to host more of the India series at Eden Park but need to negotiate. No other venues are expected to flinch at the prospect of 11pm finishes.

Such compromises potentially undermine the policy proposed by NZC under their vision in a seminal document entitled One Cricket which has been promoted around the country.

One of the guiding principles is that the "entire cricket community must wholeheartedly commit to 'putting ourselves in the shoes of our customer"'.

That prompts the question: Which customer? Subcontinental fans might be pleased but it's hard to imagine New Zealand families with young children wanting to be traipsing home from grounds as midnight looms.

Another section of the document features a heading "Better Understanding The Fan". It speaks of "aligning with fan availability" and examining ways to "repackage, relocate and reposition [rights holders] events to better suit the changing structure and behaviour of the fan population".

Pushing out the finishing times should provide a swift gauge as to the success of that gambit.

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission.