John Weekes

John Weekes is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Criticism the limit at Sky

Cricket commentators told not to mention Black Caps' dramas

NZ cricketer and commentator John Morrison said commentators should be allowed to voice their passion and interest and scrutinise the game. Illustration / Peter Bromhead
NZ cricketer and commentator John Morrison said commentators should be allowed to voice their passion and interest and scrutinise the game. Illustration / Peter Bromhead

Sky's cricket commentators have been told they must be nice to the Black Caps and are not to regurgitate their off-field dramas.

The controversy surrounding the sacking of captain Ross Taylor has fired up debate for the summer game but fans expecting Sky commentators to weigh in will be waiting a long time, the company says.

"We don't put down sporting codes because we're in the business of promoting sport," Sky spokeswoman Kirsty Way said.

Sky and New Zealand Cricket had a business partnership, she said. "It's natural for our commentators to promote our product."

The comment was made ahead of a thrashing by South Africa in the first Twenty20 international, overnight Friday. They were defeated by eight wickets with 47 balls to spare.

Former New Zealand cricketer and commentator John "Mystery" Morrison said Sky's policy was "pathetic".

"The day that people don't debate and argue these issues will be a sad day for the game," he said.

He said commentators should be allowed to voice their passion and interest and scrutinise the game. "It's totally irresponsible to ask commentators to just be cheerleaders. I think that's been a trend in recent times and it's dumbed the game down."

Cricket has been rocked by heated debates over Taylor's demotion, including a false report that legendary batsman Martin Crowe burned his NZ Cricket blazer in disgust.

Morrison said real events should not be ignored. "I know Sky has a business relationship with NZ Cricket but I think they let the game down if they just ra-ra it because, in actual fact, it deserves a lot of scrutiny at the moment."

Way said the rule applied to all sporting codes and Sky liked to have a "balanced commentary". But she admitted the definition of criticism was subjective. She said commentators were happy with the policy. "It's just ingrained in all of our people naturally."

Sky commentator Simon Doull said he hadn't been gagged. Craig McMillan, Mark Richardson and Ian Smith declined to comment or return calls.

- Herald on Sunday

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