Spark Sport will bring international talent, legends of the game and seasoned broadcasters on to the pitch and into the commentary box as it announces the first commentary line-up for the home BLACKCAPS season commencing on Friday November 27.
The commentary line-up includes a quartet of Kiwi cricketing centurions in Brendon McCullum, Stephen Fleming, Craig McMillan and Rebecca Rolls, alongside fellow internationals and fan favourites Frankie Mackay and Grant Elliott.
Also stepping up to the microphone is spin aficionado Jeetan Patel – in his first commentary role fresh from his time with the England coaching team. The combined experience between the seven amasses to 1,425 appearances for the BLACKCAPS and WHITE FERNS so they are certain to provide cricket fans with expert analysis throughout the summer.
They will be complemented by a trio of broadcasting favourites: versatile commentator Scotty Stevenson, the always-entertaining Mark Richardson – a BLACKCAPS cult hero himself – and Sonia Gray. The actor turned presenter is a lifelong cricket fan and her enthusiasm will ensure viewers get closer to the BLACKCAPS and WHITE FERNS.
Spark Sport will also bring in international commentators throughout the series, including legendary West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop. Spark Sport are also in the late stages of confirming former Australian player and commentator, Mel Jones.
Head of Spark Sport, Jeff Latch said: “We have put together a stellar line up of expert cricket heads and experienced broadcasters that will make for an entertaining dynamic in the commentary box.
“To secure talent like Brendon McCullum fresh out of his coaching role in the IPL and cricket stalwarts like Stephen Fleming who will be back on New Zealand screens after a few years dedicating his summer to the Big Bash in Australia - means cricket fans are in for a summer of entertaining analysis and banter.
“Craig McMillan brings his deep expertise in the game as the recent BLACKCAPS batting coach and a trusted rapport amongst the BLACKCAPS and WHITE FERNS players. Brendon McCullum has always been a fan favourite, and we’re confident his witty repartee and match analysis in the commentary box will well and truly live up to the legendary status he earned as BLACKCAPS captain.
“Rebecca Rolls has represented New Zealand as a Football Fern and donned the gloves for the WHITE FERNS in an international sporting career that spanned 21 years, and we are thrilled she will be joining the team.”
Rebecca Rolls said: “I fell in love with cricket as a kid and grew up watching and listening to as much as I could. I am excited about the opportunity to commentate as cricket continues to become a game for everyone.”
Brendon McCullum echoed Rebecca’s enthusiasm, saying he was looking forward to joining the New Zealand Cricket scene again. “It’s no secret that I have a deep-seated passion for cricket, having dedicated a large part of my life to it. I’m really looking forward to calling the game on home soil again, bringing my knowledge of the game, banter and a critical eye to the team alongside a range of talented and experienced cricket heads,” says McCullum.
The BLACKCAPS longest serving and most successful captain, Stephen Fleming, said: “New Zealand’s summer of cricket is shaping up to be one of the best the world will see in a year that has been full of change and uncertainty. Having been on the cricket circuit for the majority of my life in either playing or coaching roles, I know the cricketing world’s eyes will be on us in Aotearoa, so I cannot wait to get home and be a part of the mix.”
Craig McMillan said he is happy to be back in the inner sanctum of the New Zealand cricket scene again but in a slightly different role. “I’m excited by the opportunity to work with the Spark Sport crew in their first season of cricket production and look forward to influencing, testing and experimenting with them on that journey. There’s no doubt I’ll be keeping a close eye on the batting techniques and performances the BLACKCAPS and WHITE FERNS put out in the middle.”
Latch said Spark Sport was also keen to diversify the team with a good mix of broadcasting experts and will be adding a new presenter to the fold in Sonia Gray. “People will be more familiar with Sonia calling the lottery balls on a Saturday night, but she’s also an extremely passionate cricket buff with an ability to critically analyse the game and the personalities behind it.”
Sonia says she is thrilled to be joining the broadcast team. “I can’t wait to get around the grounds, talking to the players and fans for the upcoming summer of cricket. Cricket is my passion, I’ve been hooked on it my whole life, so the opportunity to share and showcase my love of the game is super exciting!"
A bumper summer of cricket has enticed former West Indian Ian Bishop and ex Australian International Mel Jones to New Zealand. The duo’s voices are instantly recognisable on the biggest cricket broadcasts around the world. Latch says Spark Sport has been able to secure top international talent thanks to New Zealand being seen as a safe haven for live sport.
“We are in a very fortunate position here in New Zealand as one of the only places where live sport is played in its full glory with packed stadiums and full productions. We are lucky to have secured some top international talent with Ian Bishop and hopefully Mel Jones to sit alongside our homegrown team and bring an international flavour to the pitch,” says Latch.
The commentary team will also call the coverage on TVNZ, the free-to-air partner for selected T20 Men’s and Women’s Internationals. It will be the first time in over 20 years that TVNZ 1 has carried live international cricket and TVNZ are excited to bring the live action to their large audience base.
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