Sport fanatics Mark Richardson and Laura McGoldrick don’t like cricket. They love it, as Suzanne McFadden finds.

Whoever said a dream job wouldn't have its deep-breath moments must have been dreaming. Laura McGoldrick and Mark Richardson could set them straight. Thousands of cricket fans would happily stand at silly mid-on to have a crack at their jobs, travelling the country this long, hot summer to watch the game they worship and then talk about it to an audience of, oh, maybe, a mere one billion viewers during the cricketing world's ultimate event, the World Cup? "Hot diggity," as McGoldrick, 26, would say in her charming way.

But maybe this pair of Sky Sport cricket experts need to put those envious fans right because following this Cricket World Cup through New Zealand will be no featherbed (that's cricket-speak for a playing pitch that's gentle and predictable).

For much of this month and rolling into the next, McGoldrick and Richardson will find themselves on a feverish road trip, zigzagging the country and living out of a suitcase. "What's a girl to pack for 24 days?" muses McGoldrick. And each morning, no matter what city they wake in, Richardson and McGoldrick must still rise before the sun and head to their respective local radio stations to be "patched in" to their shows - Richardson on RadioSport's Crowd Goes Wild Breakfast; McGoldrick on the cricket-mad Hauraki Breakfast.

Spare another thought for McGoldrick, just five months married to her Black Cap sweetheart, Martin Guptill. She must try to hold it together while the New Zealand opening batsman is at the crease or out in the field.


"I get a little nervous when he's out there," McGoldrick, host of The Cricket Show, says. "But I feel immense pride watching him play. More than anything, I feel proud."

But she can't be there to see it all. In her around-the-ground reporter's role, dabbing a little extra colour on to the match coverage, McGoldrick is sometimes stranded behind the scenes when the crowd erupts in celebration. "I'm going to have to organise that better for the World Cup," she says. "I'll be flippin' beside myself."

And Richardson may suffer a pang of envy as the Black Caps walk out on to Christchurch's Hagley Oval on February 14 to open the 11th Cricket World Cup. He was an outstanding opening batsman but didn't play at a World Cup during his five-year international career. "Rigor" (short for rigor mortis, for his lack of speed around the field) was more your five-day test match stayer than a one-day swashbuckler.

"I would have loved to have played in a World Cup but unfortunately that's not how my career panned out. I had my opportunity in one-dayers and I wasn't up to scratch. But it would have been awesome," he says.

You couldn't convince Richardson and McGoldrick to switch places with any player or fan right now, although McGoldrick could have happily been one of the crowd. In a frenzied moment, she bought tickets to every Black Caps match the minute they went on sale. "I was leaving nothing to chance." Her two younger cricket-playing brothers are now the lucky recipients.

Richardson is in his element behind the microphone. The Sky Sport commentary job "scratches my cricket itch," he says. He admits to having great fun on the set of Prime TV's nightly sports news, The Crowd Goes Wild, and enjoys breaking away from sport to host The Block NZ in cricket's off-season, the summer job is his No. 1 love. "It's a luxury and a privilege. I want to do it till I'm old and senile."

He's not so enamoured with the radio gig. "Radio is pretty ruthless and a bit of a grind. Anyone who does breakfast radio will tell you that. I find it quite stressful, and far and away the hardest thing I do. I struggle with the fact you have to spread things far too thin and don't do anything justice."

The logistics in summer - negotiating his way from radio station at dawn, to cricket ground by midmorning, and the Crowd Goes Wild set in the evening - is wearying, especially when Richardson, 43, is trying to keep up his triathlon training (he did the Auckland half ironman on a smidgeon of preparation last month),and smarten up his golf game for the NZ Golf Open Pro-Am championship, which coincides with the Black Caps' match with Bangladesh.


But McGoldrick loves early-morning radio. The performing arts graduate revels in the repartee with Hauraki Breakfast co-hosts Jeremy Wells and Matt Heath, cricket disciples who are the backbone of The Alternative Commentary Collective, an unorthodox cricket commentary broadcast from a caravan at one-day internationals this summer.

"Hauraki is the biggest pro-cricket, pro-Black Caps station," McGoldrick crows. "Yes, we've been growled at because we talk a lot of cricket and not everyone gets into it like we do.

"But it's a great time for New Zealand cricket right now with the Black Caps doing so well, so how could anyone really mind?"

She looks to Wells, Heath and Richardson for broadcasting advice if she needs it. She has worked with Richardson since she was 19, when they co-hosted The Cricket Show. "He's a lovely guy. Very giving of his time and patience."

She was an early fan, too. When her interest in cricket was blossoming as a teenager, Richardson was at his batting best. And her mother, cricketing agent Leanne McGoldrick, is her best friend and biggest critic. "She's honest and tells it like it is."

So can Brendon McCullum's boys continue their golden run through the World Cup or will history get the better of them? After all, New Zealand has never made it past the semifinal stage in 40 years of the tournament.

"I think expectations are high, maybe too high," Richardson warns. "We have to accept there are a lot of good sides out there now. It's about getting everything right at the right time and having a bit of luck. If they got to the final, I don't know if I'd back them, just because we haven't seen New Zealand there before.

"That environment doesn't suit New Zealand, England and South Africa. It suits the emotional teams, the teams who have an unwavering belief and history, like [four-time champions] Australia."

Putting bias aside, McGoldrick won't be drawn on who she thinks will reach the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 29. "I'm not going to say where I think New Zealand will finish; I won't do that to myself. But I know they will give it a good go. If we have a chance to win the World Cup, it's now, given the way McCullum is playing and leading the team. Even the Aussies are taking notice."

Cricket world cup - the facts

• It's 23 years since New Zealand last hosted the Cricket World Cup. We shared the hosting duties with Australia in 1992.

• There will be 49 matches played over 44 days - from February 14 to March 29. Australia hosts 26 games, New Zealand, 23.

• Auckland, Hamilton, Napier, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin are the Kiwi host cities.

• It's one of the world's largest sporting events, involving 14 teams.

Pool A: England, Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, NZ, Afghanistan, Scotland.
Pool B: South Africa, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland, UAE.

• With one-fifth of the world's population considered cricket nations, more than one billion global spectators are predicted to tune in.

• The World Cup a one-day international competition - each side plays 50 overs in a match.

• Australia has won the World Cup four times in 10 tournaments. No other nation has won it more times.

• Cricket heavyweights South Africa, England and New Zealand have never won the World Cup in its 40-year history.

• New Zealand has made the semifinal stage six out of 10 times - but never progressed further.

• India is the defending champion, having beaten Sri Lanka in the 2011 final.

• Scotland makes its World Cup debut this year.

• Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar holds the record for the most runs scored in World Cup cricket - 2278 in six tournaments; and the most runs in a single tournament (673 in the 2003 Cup).

• Australian fast bowler Glenn McGrath has taken the most wickets in Cup history - 71 - and took 26 of those in the 2007 World Cup alone.

• New Zealand kicks off the tournament on February 14 playing 1996 world champions Sri Lanka in Christchurch. Australia meets England in a day-night game in Melbourne on the same day.

SKY Sport will broadcast every match of the Cricket World Cup live on Sky Sport 3, Sky Sport 4, and on Mark Richardson and fellow New Zealand commentators Simon Doull and Ian Smith will lend their voices to the Black Caps matches for host broadcaster Star Sports, and Laura McGoldrick will report from around the ground at New Zealand games.