Sony asks for delayed start time in Tests

March 17th, 2009 - 8:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Hamilton, March 17 (IANS) Host broadcaster of the New Zealand and India cricket series, Sony Entertainment Television, is reportedly pushing to delay the start time of the first of the three Test series that begins Wednesday by an hour, to maximise viewership in India.
New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and Sony were locked in discussions late Tuesday after NZC’s broadcasting partner wanted the first Test here at Seddon Park to start an hour later.

Play has been scheduled to start at 11 a.m. (NZT) throughout the series but representatives from Sony contacted NZC with a request to start at midday so they could maximise viewership in the sub-continent, The New Zealand Herald reports.

However, if the change goes ahead the first ball will still be bowled at 4.30 a.m. in India.

If NZC and New Zealand-based broadcaster Sky TV agree to the change, play will continue till 7 p.m. and 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 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.

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 skipper 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 starts at 12.”

The request for a time change is seen here as the latest example of Sony and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) exerting their power during this tour.

Last week Sony and the BCCI’s demand from Sky TV to 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), drew severe criticism.

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