Former Black Cap and current cricket commentator Grant Elliott talks about the summer of cricket on TVNZ, his sporting heroes and his most memorable moments on the field.
For the first time in a long time, we’re having a wealth of free-to-air cricket. You must be excited to have so many games on offer.
I think you’ve got a responsibility as a professional athlete – but anyone that’s in the game –- to promote it, and I think it’s great that it’s free to air and everyone can watch it. As a youngster, that’s where I found my love for cricket, watching it on TV. The more it’s on TV, the more exposure we give the game, the more it’s going to grow. And I think in this day and age, you want kids to be playing sports and you want them to be playing team sports. I think it’s so important. The stronger our sport is, the stronger our communities and societies.
What is your most memorable moment playing for New Zealand?
My most memorable moment would probably be every time you lined up and you sang the national anthem. I loved national anthems growing up, all the different ones – the Irish one, Scottish one, the English one. And then standing in front of thousands of people and singing the national anthem I think is the proudest moment you can have. Whatever happens on the field happens on the field but those moments, I think, are the most memorable ones in terms of my cricketing experiences.
I thought you would have said smashing the match-winning six at the 2015 Cricket World Cup semifinal?
I mean, that was a very special moment. And I think it was a special moment for a number of reasons. Obviously, the first time we got into a World Cup final but, as a team, we just have such a following. The nation was really following and got behind us. And I think that we’re all very proud of what we achieved there. And it wasn’t just that one shot of mine, there were so many brilliant moments that went towards me being given the opportunity to have that winning shot. But, sure, that’s a very memorable moment.
Was cricket your first sporting love or did you pursue other interests?
I played rugby. I was First XV rugby captain in school. I did a bit of athletics, hurdles and high jump. I played a little bit of golf. But at school you played everything. I played tennis, I played football, I swam. But I guess from the age of 14 I took cricket quite seriously.
Who was your cricket hero as a child?
In South Africa growing up, we never had live cricket broadcasts because of the sanctions against South Africa. So I didn’t see a lot of cricket until 1992. So I think Viv Richards, just the whole demeanour he had. I read about him and I saw video clips but never got to see him live. I really enjoyed watching cricketers of that age, like Allan Donald, and the bowling side of things. I wasn’t much of a fast bowler, but I think it was just players who had that real attitude and they brought a lot of confidence to the crease. I think that they were pretty special players.
What do you like about commentating as opposed to playing?
You don’t have the pressures of being out there and facing balls at 150km/h. It’s nice to watch that from afar. And you don’t have to be physically able before you start your day. You just have to get your voice all ready to go. I think we get the best seats in the house as commentators and it’s the best place to watch the game. We’re very privileged to be in the position we are.
Why do you think cricketers are such great storytellers?
Because they spend so long on tour and in the field that they’ve just got so much time to kill. So you have to tell stories.
What match-up are you most excited to see on this summer’s cricket schedule?
It’s got to be Australia and New Zealand, the trans-Tasman rivalry, I think it has to be.
Summer Of Cricket, TVNZ 1, TVNZ Duke and TVNZ+