Watch any batsman arrive at the crease in a cricket international. They prepare – they take a guard with the umpire; they use the bottom of their bat to smooth bumps in the pitch; they make sure their protective equipment (pads, elbow guards, helmets) is comfortable; and they check the opposition's field placements.
Then, and only then, they face the bowler.
This summer, those wanting to watch the Black Caps as they take on the West Indies, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Australia will similarly need to prepare – though they won't have to face missiles hurtling towards them at close to 150 km/hr.
Spark Sport – the only provider of every Black Caps and White Ferns games this summer – says cricket lovers have a much easier preparation than batsmen but strongly recommend a little foresight. It will, they say, maximise the viewing experience on the Spark Sport app to ensure you don't miss the action.
The Black Caps begin their long summer of cricket on November 27.
Head of Spark Sport, Jeff Latch says: "There's a common misunderstanding that watching live sport online is the same as watching Netflix. It's not. Live streaming sport is much more complex.
"Unlike Netflix, where the movies you play are coming in from online storage, a live sports production is transmitting real time action, from the sports field, right through to your phone, TV or computer and, at times, from the other side of the world. So it's best you get stream-ready."
Spark Sport works with apps for selected smartphones, tablets, computers, and selected Smart TVs (after 2017) will find the app already installed. They simply have to get their Spark Sport subscription, access the app and go through the testing described above.
Older TVs can 'get smart' with the addition of low-cost streaming devices such as Google Chromecast 3 or ultras, Apple TV 4K or HD only or the Freeview SmartVU X. The performance of the live sport stream on your laptop or desktop depends on different factors like, age, hardware, memory and processing power.
A basic rule of thumb is that the device should have a minimum download speed of 15 Mbps (megabits per second); any slower than that and the viewing experience could suffer.
The best way of testing is to go to help.sparksport.co.nz/speed-test and follow the simple instructions. Test using the same device you intend watching on, at peak times (between 8-9pm) to make sure your set-up performs well. If it indicates your connection isn't up to it, consider talking to your internet service provider about the best connection.
There are also ways to strengthen a WiFi signal:
- Plug your device directly into your modem with an Ethernet cable. This removes streaming interference.
- Free the signal – large objects or hidden modems can block, bounce or deflect your signal, so move your modem into the open.
- Connect to a faster band – check your WiFi networks to see if there is a 5G one available. It will normally have a -5G suffix.
- A signal booster can help strengthen WiFi performance
Latch says: "Whether you are an avid watcher of Netflix or a first-time streamer, the best way to ensure you get a good experience on the night is to try watching some sport on the platform now. My advice is to sign up, log in and watch the already impressive line-up of cricketing content and the many other sports fixtures, which are available today."
Follow the simple steps above or head to help.sparksport.co.nz for more help to get cricket-ready.