Spark Sport yesterday signed a six-year deal with New Zealand Cricket which is a massive coup after Sky Sport held the rights since the mid-90s.
What they'll need to lock in before next summer is a commentary team. Here's a look at their potential options.
The Sky crew
Ian Smith, Mark Richardson, Craig Cumming, Simon Doull and Scott Styris have made up the key members of the Sky commentary team over the last few years and it would make sense for them to be the starting point for Spark. Sky will continue to have Black Caps games outside of New Zealand but they generally run with the overseas commentators along with one or two Kiwi voices who are contracted by the host broadcaster.
Smith also does rugby commentary for Sky and it would be unlikely he'll be allowed to do both roles for Sky and Spark. His call of the key moments at the Cricket World Cup were pretty special and could be worth chasing to lead the Spark coverage. Richardson works for Mediaworks, on the AM Show and as host of The Block, which probably wouldn't sit well with Spark as well due to their ties with TVNZ.
Doull would be an obvious choice for Spark Sport having been a regular commentator around the globe including the recent Cricket World Cup, the ever-popular Indian Premier League and other Twenty20 events for a number of years now. The fact he sees many of the world's best and up and coming stars in action on a regular basis helps a lot in his favour.
Cumming fronts Sky's 1st XV Rugby coverage while Styris also commentates in overseas competitions. Both would be good choices for Spark.
How about Jeremy Wells? He's a current host on a TVNZ show and has been superb when calling games for NZME's Alternative Commentary Collective team. He's stated in the past that calling cricket has been his dream job. Fellow ACC members also would add value in appealing to a younger audience and ACC's coverage of the Black Clash, which aired on TVNZ 1, seemed to be a partial success.
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Spark Sport will be keen to get a number of female voices as part of the coverage, as they should. Isa Guha and Alison Mitchell were brilliant at the Cricket World Cup with Guha set to play a big role in BBC's coverage of England Cricket's new tournament The Hundred.
Rikki Swannell, Lesley Murdoch and Debbie Hockley have been part of Sky Sport's coverage in the last few years along with White Ferns batter Frankie Mackay - all great options. For a long time it seemed Sky had a 'former male players only please' sign on the commentary box so it's been refreshing they have at least attempted to embrace female commentators. Give me any of the above mentioned over the dross delivered by Heals, Tubby, Slats and friends over the ditch.
(Side note - Sky hit back yesterday saying they will be delivering live cricket including a six-year deal with Cricket Australia. Great news for fans of the Big Bash but not great if your test cricket coverage is the Channel Nine team. But they backed that up with an announcement today Sky have signed a four-year extension to their deal with the ICC which includes both the men's and women's World Cups along with the T20 tournaments).
Former international Emily Drumm could be an option as well as current players Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine once their playing careers come to an end.
Brendon McCullum will be part of the Sky team for the upcoming summer but he would be an obvious choice after commentating at the Cricket World Cup. As a recent captain he as a vast knowledge of the current side.
Stephen Fleming, another former captain, has done well in the commentary box in the past while more recent retired players like Grant Elliott and Jeetan Patel have also been comfortable with the mic.
Former pace bowler Danny Morrison, like Doull, is also a globetrotting commentator across many T20 league.
Other contenders would include former coach Mike Hesson, along with former Black Caps Kyle Mills and Chris Harris who have done commentary stints and TV work in recent years.
NZME also owns Radio Sport so back off Spark Sport! But the likes of Bryan Waddle, Daniel McHardy, Andrew Alderson and Jeremy Coney would be good choices as well. Former Black Cap and regular Radio Sport commentator Peter McGlashan is one of the most informative in the game and offers great insight.
Scotty Stevenson and Stephen Donald
Stevenson should be involved but put Beaver out there as well since the duo have been so good at the Rugby World Cup.