India flexes muscle for delayed start to Test series

March 17th, 2009 - 5:50 pm ICT by ANI  

Sachin Tendulkar

Hamilton (New Zealand), Mar.17 (ANI): Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) officials flexed their financial muscle in New Zealand again today, seeking to accommodate broadcaster Sony Entertainment Televisions request to start play at 12 p.m. instead of 11 a.m. during the three-test cricket series.
A New Zealand Press Association report said that New Zealand Cricket and Sony were locked in discussions till late today after NZC’’s broadcasting partner wanted the first test here at Seddon Park to start an hour later.
Sony contacted NZC with a request to start at midday so they could maximise viewership in the sub-continent.
However, if the change goes ahead the first ball will still be bowled at the unsociable 4.30 a.m. in India.
If NZC and New Zealand-based broadcaster Sky TV agree to the change, play will continue to 7 p.m. and as the series continues light quality could be an issue.
Seddon Park and Napier’’s McLean Park venue of the second test are equipped with lights, though both teams must agree to play under them if the need arises.
But in Wellington where the third test is to be held between April 3-7 late by cricketing standards there are no lights at the Basin Reserve.
Daylight saving also kicks in part way through that match.
Earlier this summer, the two-test series against the West Indies also started at the unusual time of midday to satisfy Sony, who last year signed a multi-million dollar broadcasting deal with NZC to beam New Zealand’’s international to India.
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said he would be surprised if the start time was delayed.
“It will be very different for us, playing at night it seems. It will be difficult, I”ve not played a test that’’s starts at 12.”
The request for a time change is the latest example of Sony and/or the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) exerting their power during this tour.
Last week Sony and the BCCI demanded Sky TV remove former international Craig McMillan from its commentary team for the second test in Napier from March 26-30 because of his links to the Indian Cricket League (ICL) a rival to the BCCI-backed Indian Premier League.
McMillan, who plays for the ICL’’s Royal Bengal Tigers, was pencilled in as a replacement for Ravi Shastri when the former Indian international goes home before returning for the Wellington Test.
McMillian’’s presence behind the microphone is yet to be confirmed but Sky’’s acting executive producer for cricket, James Cameron, has said he did not believe the channel should be dictated to.
The BCCI’’s stance towards any players with ICL connections was evident early in the tour when Sachin Tendulkar and Dinesh Karthik were withdrawn from a Masters Twenty20 game in Wellington because former ICL player Hamish Marshall was involved.
They also ensured test players designated for match practice in the domestic four-day competition did not play for or against Auckland or Northern Districts because Marshall and former pace bowler Daryl Tuffey were on those provincial rosters. (ANI)

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