Golden summer ahead
Laura McGoldrick is promising some little changes and few surprises when it comes to Sky TV's cricket coverage this summer.
The host of Sky Sports' The Cricket Show and one of the faces of their Twenty20 coverage, the Canterbury-born beauty is excited by what they'll be able to offer viewers.
''For someone like me who has never played cricket but is a very keen fan, I love the idea of the commentators being able to chat to the boys on the field. It gives you an understanding of what it's like out in the middle and what their gameplan is. I'll never forget Shane Warne saying he'd bowl someone round his legs and he did it. I thought 'holy, moley'.''
Former Black Cap Chris Cairns has joined the Sky commentary team, while McGoldrick says viewers can also expect to hear from more guest ''experts''. ''One of the great things about New Zealand is there are lots of cricket fans from all walks of life and most of our rugby players were actually quite good at the game.''
A Rangi Ruru Girls' School old girl, McGoldrick was delighted that the domestic season hit off last month in her old home town of Christchurch.
''I'm always proud to be a Cantab, it pains me greatly that I have to live in Auckland,'' she jokes. ''To not have cricket in Christchurch for so long after the earthquakes was a crime, I watched lot of grassroots cricket growing up (her brothers Chris and Tim played) so I understand how hard it might have been for young kids not being able to see the domestic or international boys. Hagley Oval though looked beautiful.''
McGoldrick believes these are exciting times for New Zealand cricket and its fans with the West Indies and India due to tour here this summer and the World Cup scheduled for late-summer 2015. Meanwhile, domestically the Otago Volts have shown the strength of our Twenty20 competition - the HRV Cup - with their performance at the recent Champions League in India.
''They were fantastic and showcased our depth of talent with their team of ex-Black Caps, current Black Caps and soon-to-be Black Caps. Take Jimmy Nesham - you couldn't ask for a cooler head on a 21-year-old. Then there's Neil Broom, maybe we'll see him with Black Fern on his chest again after that amazing innings [117 not out against Perth]. I was talking to Jesse Ryder the other day and he was saying that was one of the best T20 hundreds he has ever seen.''
She says the addition of Ryder (last season's top HRV Cup run-scorer) tothe Volts will make them even stronger, although other teams are likely to have more Black Caps available than last season.
Despite being more than happy to sit through a five-day test herself (she's already planned a trip across the ditch to check out the current Ashes series between Australia and England), McGoldrick is well aware of the broader appeal and attractiveness of the Twenty20 format.
''It's exciting, fun and quick - every couple of balls something is bound to happen and you're always left wanting more at the end. A lot of the games are played under lights which is always cool and it's a good family time, you don't get too many hooligans.''
For those unable to watch games live at a ground, she believes Sky is offering a jazzier package than ever this season. ''We're giving it the pizzazz it deserves and making more of Twenty20's entertainment factor.''
That includes some double headers, good practice for the network ahead of the testing logistical demands of the World Cup.
And McGoldrick's big wish for the season?
''That the boys play the way they did against England here last summer - confident, heads held high and distraction free.''
The Cricket Show, 10.30pm, Saturday, Sky Sport 1. HRV Cup Twenty20: Auckland v Wellington 7pm, Friday, Sky Sport 1. Auckland v Canterbury 7pm, Saturday, Sky Sport 1.