Considering the Blackcaps and White Ferns haven’t played, it’s been quite the week for New Zealand Cricket and their partners.
Last Friday a report out of Hawke’s Bay regarding racial abuse during a match on the final day of the Year 11-13 grade tournament of the Hawke’s Bay Cricket Camps barely made a ripple nationally. I’ll come back to that.
On Sunday came an article indicating that NZC ‘couldn’t be happier with the progress to date’ during the first couple of months of their broadcast deal with Spark Sport. For those of you curious, it seems a Spark Sport announcement on viewing figures so far, may be just around the corner.
On Monday, the Hawke’s Bay story started to attract attention nationally and on Tuesday it developed into the lead sports story on TVNZ’s 1 News at 6pm.
Late on Monday night came confirmation that the Blackcaps will play England in two tests this June, at Lords and Edgbaston. It will be the first test series between the two teams in England, since 2015.
On Wednesday, Australia named their 18 man squad for next month’s five match T20I series against the Blackcaps. It’s a series that has already seen the sold out sign go up at Hagley Oval and strong ticket sales at the other four venues.
Also on Wednesday, a non-cricket story suddenly attracted the attention of NZC and for good reason; the racism storm at MediaWorks involving presenter John Banks and a caller to the ‘Magic Talk Mornings’ programme was significant to them given Magic Talk are now their radio broadcast partner. As Vodafone, Kiwibank and TradeMe said they would pull their advertising from the station, NZC released the following statement:
‘NZC is disgusted and appalled by an indefensibly racist exchange between a talkback caller and host John Banks on MagicTalk Radio. NZC has contacted the station to both ask for an explanation and express its dismay over comments completely at odds with our values and culture. Should strong action not be taken NZC reserves its right to review its relationship with Magic Talk.’
On Thursday, MediaWorks and NZC confirmed that they had met and their broadcast relationship would continue.
Also on Thursday, NZC confirmed that Dream11 has extended its association with them, including the naming rights partnership with the men’s and women’s Super Smash competition, for another six years. It’s quite the feat to get a sponsorship agreement signed for that length of time and provides more long term financial certainty in addition to Spark Sport’s six year broadcast deal.
So, there’s been plenty going on for David White and his team and I think it’s fair to say they’ve come out of it well.
The situation in Hawke’s Bay will continue for a while yet. The Hawke’s Bay Cricket Association has engaged an independent commissioner to investigate the match in question. The allegations are deeply concerning and if proven, would be a serious indictment of certain individuals and those who have an influence over them. Let’s not forget that this was a game involving players from Years 11-13. Coupled with the Magic Talk incident, it’s a stark reminder that racism and all forms of discrimination remains a huge blight on our society. This isn’t an issue that just exists overseas and only comes at us through our tv screens and social media platforms. It’s something that New Zealanders endure every day. It’s something that New Zealanders use to hurt their fellow citizens and residents every day. There is and can be no excuse for it. In this social media age, there is not and should not be any hiding place for it. Just as the caller to Magic Talk and John Banks were exposed, any proven allegations in Hawke’s Bay or anywhere else, sporting or otherwise must be dealt with swiftly and decisively. The minority are the minority for a reason and must be held to account. That’s a job for all of us and we must never clock out of that responsibility.