New Zealand v India, 1st Test, Hamilton March 17, 2009

New Zealand board declines request to delay start

Cricinfo staff

The New Zealand board has declined an Indian broadcaster's request to start the Test in Hamilton at noon instead of the traditional 11am after discussions with the teams and match officials. Multi Screen Media Pvt Ltd (formerly Sony Entertainment Television) had approached New Zealand Cricket with the request as it wants to maximise its viewership in India. If the start had been pushed back, the Test would have begun at 4.30 am in India, as opposed to 3.30 am.

The starting times for the second and third Tests, to be played in Napier and Wellington, haven't been finalised yet.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan was quoted by the Dominion Post as saying negotiations with the Indian board and Sony led to a "very amicable outcome". He said Test start times were normally set in concrete months ago but there had been a recent change in leadership at Sony and with it some new ideas on the table.

"Sony had wanted better time slots broadcast back into India and we want to keep them happy because they are our broadcast partner but it just wasn't to be this time," Vaughan said. "The players weren't happy to play under lights and Sony is fine about that, they understand, and everyone is happy. It's a very amicable outcome."

While over the past two days in Hamilton, light has held well until 7 pm, which would have been the new scheduled close, the second and third days of the Test were expected to be cloudy. If any time had been lost to rain, it would have been difficult to make up for it in the evenings. Moreover, there was the small matter of the bowlers' wanting to use the early-morning freshness and moisture.

The idea of a later start, as Vaughan suggested, didn't seem to sit well with the players. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India's captain, said it would be a strange experience if the match were to start at noon. "It will be very different for us," Dhoni said. "Playing at night it seems like. Will go on till don't know what time. That will be definitely difficult. I have not played any Test that starts at 12. Definitely a bit of concern."

The other Tests in the New Zealand season, the ones against West Indies which were played in December (the middle of summer), had noon starts. And since the timings for the next two Tests have not been finalised, delayed starts remain a possibility.