Summer may not have arrived in New Zealand but the Christmas turkey did and, as New Zealanders pile into their cars and head for the holiday spots, television becomes all-important for cricket fans to keep in touch with the international season cricket. As Boxing Day dawned for the first ODI between New Zealand and Sri Lanka at Auckland, the Sunday News featured a column outlining what Sky Television had to offer this season. The opinion piece was the work of New Zealand's greatest ever batsman, Martin Crowe, who also happens to be the head of Sky's cricket coverage.
Of note was Crowe's admonishing of Hawk-Eye, the visual technology commonly used to demonstrate whether or not a delivery will hit the stumps. In his column, Crowe said Sky would only use technology that could assist the umpire. In his view, Hawk-Eye was a hindrance that could never be used by umpires as it could only guess where the ball would have travelled. Not only is his logic flawed - umpires and commentators alike are themselves guessing - he failed to paint the full picture for readers on the merits of Hawk-Eye and instead promoted a new Sky-designed gimmick. As Cricinfo's S Rajesh demonstrated earlier, this year Hawk-Eye is in fact correct 99% of the time, a figure umpires are unable to achieve.
Also of interest on the opening day of the season was Crowe's announcement of Sky's commentary team. Along with the regulars, all of whom were ex-New Zealand players, Crowe recruited the recently-retired Mark Richardson as well as the injured duo of Shane Bond and Chris Harris. The decision to not include a Sri Lankan commentator was both curious and potentially dangerous. While Crowe is no doubt correct when he said entertainment was the overriding consideration for television, accuracy on player information can never be compromised. This is particularly so when Sri Lanka has not featured regularly on New Zealand television for over 18 months. When a commentary team lacks someone with intimate knowledge of a touring side,the risk of misinformation increases.
And so it happened before a ball was bowled at Eden Park. As the Sri Lankan openers, Sanath Jayasuriya and Saman Jayantha, made their way out to the middle Crowe, opening up on Sky Television, said that Jayantha had been promoted ahead of Marvan Atapattu. The obvious surprise in Crowe's voice was misplaced since Atapattu had not opened in an ODI since the tour of Zimbabwe in April while Jayantha had partnered Jayasuriya regularly since then.
Having an expert on Sri Lankan cricket would not only have seen such errors rectified quickly but would help the New Zealand commentators to really get to know the Sri Lankan players. It would also add another perspective to the comments such as "Cairnsy" and "we're looking good" - something we heard from Adam Parore today.
Andrew McLean is a presenter of The Cricket Club, New Zealand's only national radio cricket show (www.cricketclub.co.nz).