Respected cricket and rugby presenter Ian Smith has left Sky TV after 23 years with the network.
Former Black Cap Smith, 65, announced on his radio show with Senzo on Monday morning that the decision to leave Sky TV was a “mutual agreement”.
“I can reveal that I am no longer a Sky TV performer,” Smith said. “I finished on the 31st of December. Even now, at my tender age, I have to re-set my sights and my goals and it’s bloody exciting, I must say.”
Smith has been a commentator on Sky for over 23 years. During this period he was regarded as one of New Zealand’s most insightful and knowledgeable cricket broadcasters.
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He also provided commentary during rugby matches, usually stationed on the sidelines. Post-match interviews were often part of his portfolio.
“Sky TV now has a facelift, away from this old, flaky, sun-kissed one,” Smith told Senz. “There’s a new kind, if you haven’t noticed, and that’s the way it’s moving away from the broadcaster’s career.
“Like Nisbo (Grant Nisbett) and TJ (Tony Johnson), those guys in particular, and hopefully it’ll be a long time before they’re off our screens. Top-notch, dedicated professionals and a pleasure to work with.”
Smith said he and Sky agreed it was time to go their separate ways.
“There is purpose and direction towards Maori and Pacific contribution and, of course, women’s sport, like never before. The way of the world, as they say.
“So it was mutual that we parted ways.”
During his tenure at Sky, Smith covered two All Blacks World Cup wins, more than 160 All Blacks Tests, 20 Super Rugby finals and “countless” NPC and Ranfurly Shield matches.
“Probably close to 750 games in all. How lucky for a kid who grew up playing rugby in Miramar 60 years ago. Did I just say that – 60 years ago?”
Being asked to speak into the microphone during rugby matches was something he never imagined would happen: “Some will say I probably shouldn’t have, but I did and it was an honor and a privilege for me.”
However, Smith’s ability to tap into his extensive knowledge of another sport – cricket – has made him a valuable asset to Sky Sport.
A successful wicketkeeper and batsman, Smith played 63 Tests and 98 ODIs for New Zealand between 1980 and 1992.
His transition to the commentary box has been smooth and he said he was proud of what Sky Sport had achieved until NZ Cricket signed a deal with Spark Sport to broadcast matches from April 2020, when its broadcast deal with Sky expired.
“It started with cricket on day one, all those years ago,” Smith said. “It helped build what I believe was a pretty good product until the company lost interest in keeping it on their channels.
“The CEO at the time, who admitted he wasn’t a big fan of the game.”
It was revealed last month that Spark Sport would cease to exist from July, with all New Zealand cricket to be shown on TVNZ from next season, until the end of the current deal NZ Cricket had with Spark Sport, which runs until the end of the 2025 season. -26.
Beating India in India in a Test match, let alone a series, will be a huge task.
Smith has spent the last six weeks working for Australian broadcaster Fox Sports and the ICC at the T20 World Cup, which he said “rejuvenated my love of cricket”.
His commentary on the recent Australia v South Africa series was broadcast on Sky, which holds the cricket rights in Australia.
“Fox is without a doubt the number one producer of cricket in the world. Ambitious, innovative and their relationship with the players will never, ever be emulated in this country.”
Sky TV said in a statement to Things that he would like to thank Smith for his contribution after more than two decades of service.
“After an illustrious career covering some of our biggest sporting moments over more than two decades, Ian Smith is leaving his commentary role at Sky Sport.
“An accomplished cricketer and rugby player, Smithy was on the touchline when the All Blacks won the World Cup at Eden Park in 2011. And who could forget his call when the Black Caps lost THAT final to England?
“Sky Sport customers will continue to be able to enjoy Smithy’s international work when he calls Australian cricket and ICC matches broadcast on Sky.
“We would like to say a big thank you to Smithy for his significant contribution over the past 20+ years and wish him all the best for the future.”