Thursday, June 30, 2005

Give New Zealand Cricket a break!

Interesting pointer on the direction of New Zealand Cricket on the upcoming tour to Zimbabwe in both the Dom-Post and the Herald. The Herald has finally drawn the crucial link between the National Bank, headed by Sir John Anderson, and key sponsor to New Zealand cricket, which is in turn headed by--wait for it--Sir John Anderson.

National/ANZ Bank PR woman Cythia Brophy has hinted that the National Bank is not entirely happy with the idea of New Zealand Cricket touring Zimbabwe. And with good cause. The Bank has much greater exposure to negative public opinion than a mere sports body: the Bank associated itself with New Zealand cricket in order to garner positive public opinion. It sponsors the team to gain customers, rather than lose them. And keeping public face is the challenge that the National Bank is facing.

But back to Sir John. It's hard to see how he would allow his own corporate affairs guru to spout off against the Zimbabwe tour at the bank if he wasn't pushing for New Zealand cricket to bow out of the tour.

And it makes sense. Cricket is a professional sport. It relies on corporate sponsors. Corporate sponsors fund the game because they want to be associated with the good vibes that the sport brings to their association. No sporting body is going to arrogantly ignore the opinions of its sponsors, if the sponsors feel they will lose money from their sponsorship.

Yes, Sir John was a classy club cricketer. He could hit the ball hard for Karori. Very hard. He even broke Wellington club cricket records for the ninth wicket. But he is Chairman of New Zealand cricket principally because he is Chief Executive of New Zealand cricket's principal sponsor.

Yet again, New Zealand media fail to draw the link. Instead they launch into a tirade of intrigue, claiming that New Zealand cricket is unresponsive to the public and is doing nothing to stop the tour to Zimbabwe. In reality, they are far more in touch with public sentiment, by virtue of their sponsorship arrangements, than the very journalists who write their mindless shit.

So give New Zealand cricket a break. They're clearly doing all they can to get out of the tour.

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