A public backlash against Radio Sport's decision to axe its traditional live cricket commentary this summer has rapidly gone viral.
Facebook groups, a burgeoning online petition at www.ipetitions.com/petition/radiosport/ and Twitter campaigns, including support from high-profile New Zealand cricketers such as Martin Crowe, Dion Nash, Scott Styris and Iain O'Brien, have all decried Radio Sport's announcement yesterday that it would be dumping its regular live action commentators at all domestic first-class games in favour of a "centralised" person giving score "updates" - despite that person not being present at the games that are played concurrently around the country.
Signing an online petition to keep the iconic live coverage, cricket aficionado Andrew McIlroy's voice represented the passion for retaining the Kiwi summer tradition of listening to cricket matches unfold through a transistor: "Any of us can go look up the scores online - we want the commentary!"
Former New Zealand test player Shayne O'Connor added that "It would be a tragedy to lose domestic cricket commentary off Radio Sport; it is bad enough that it gains little or no coverage on TV news sport sections".
Northland Cricket CEO Gary Bell reflected the views of New Zealand's substantial cricket community: "I simply cannot believe that (The Radio Network, owner of Radio Sport) would contemplate pulling live Plunket Shield commentary. It connects the wider cricket community with domestic cricket and we will all be the poorer for this decision."
Radio Sport holds the radio broadcasting rights to cricket matches in New Zealand, and with no television coverage of the Plunket Shield its listening public relies solely on the broadcaster for commentary and interpretation of each game.
Radio Sport has confirmed the measure is a cost-cutting move, adding that "we believe it is a cleaner way to present our coverage of the 4-day domestic game".
The Plunket Shield is considered the bedrock of New Zealand test cricket, developing the games of current and future Blackcaps. It is the premier trophy in New Zealand domestic cricket, the sport considered to be the country's national summer game.
When the privatised Radio Sport network was permitted to replace the former publicly-funded Sports Round-Up service, Radio Sport argued it would be preserving the beloved Kiwi summer tradition of live radio cricket commentary.
Where to have your say on cricket commentary cuts:
Twitter hashtag #savethecommentary @radiosportnz
Get live commentary of Plunket Shield cricket back on Radio Sport