Cricket's alternative commentary on the World Cup has been silenced.
The Alternative Commentary Collective, whose distinctive work from a caravan parked near the boundary at New Zealand's games this summer has become a feature of the international programme, have had their accreditations pulled by the International Cricket Council.
It is in response to an alleged protocol breach during the game between Afghanistan and New Zealand at McLean Park in Napier on Sunday. At a drinks break during the Afghanistan innings, comedian Leigh Hart, a member of the ACC, accompanied the cart on to the park. That broke a rule about who is permitted on to the playing arena on a game day.
An ICC spokesman said: "An individual went outside the agreed boundaries of an activation and appropriate action has been taken."
Hart confirmed to the Herald that he entered the ground during the drinks break. "It was part of a promotional thing done by Gatorade, where they asked us to be on the drinks trolley. One of us was selected and it was me," he said.
The ACC are perplexed, saying they were invited into the drinks trolley by sponsors Gatorade, part of the Pepsi Cola group. Hart's credentials were given to the ICC and ground operators the day before the match. Gatorade had been trying to get the ACC on to the trolley in other matches, but early finishes had prevented this from happening.
The umpires, Johan Cloete and Marais Erasmus, commented on Hart's attire and they engaged in small talk for a matter of seconds.
As drinks was wrapping up, Grant Elliott - known throughout the summer by the ACC team as the Hairy Javelin - wandered past and asked Hart how he was going and he replied. Neither the conversation with the umpires nor Elliott were recorded.
A statement on the ACC Facebook page said: "For the record - there was no breach of protocol here. Leigh did exactly what was asked of him by operations officials - it was so innocuous it's boring."
However, the ICC has taken a dim view of the stunt.
The ACC - Hart, Matt Heath, Jeremy Wells, Jason Hoyte, Mike Lane, Lee Baker and Paul Ford - have been instructed not to make any public statement. Their commentaries were streamed through iHeart Radio, a division of NZME., which also owns the Herald.
Dallas Gurney, NZME. general manager for talk, said: "We are in conversations with the ICC through [global sport and media business] IMG about the way forward."
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