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Sky New Zealand on the defensive following cricket rights failure

Pay-television broadcaster Sky New Zealand has hit out at the Cricket South Africa governing body after the two parties failed to agree a rights deal for the one-day international series between the countries.

Sky also failed to secure rights to last week’s two Twenty20 games between South Africa and New Zealand, but the start of the ODI series today (Wednesday) will mark the first time in 12 years that a Test match or one-day international featuring New Zealand in action against another major nation hasn’t been televised by Sky.

Richard Last, director of sport for Sky, told the Stuff.co.nz website that the broadcaster tabled an increased last-minute offer to CSA’s agency partner IMG today, but it wasn't enough to secure live coverage of the first ODI in Centurion.

Last said Sky made an initial bid before last week’s first Twenty20 international to CSA and its broadcast partner, pay-television operator SuperSport. He added: “They came back with a number that we thought 'crikey that's pretty steep'. We tried to see if we could make it work and we thought 'no, they're being far too aggressive there'.

“There's often a bit of to-ing and fro-ing and we went back with another offer. You would hope that way before now a deal would have been agreed. It has gone on too long. Nobody wins in this situation. We certainly don't, viewers don't and Cricket South Africa doesn't. I feel a bit sorry for NZ Cricket because they can't do much about it, but they get in trouble too. We just wanted to try and get a deal done and we tried to show willing (with the increased offer).”

Last insisted that Sky had done all in its power to secure rights and said he was confident it would continue to broadcast New Zealand’s future overseas tours.

“Normally in the past we've always managed to reach agreement, so that might suggest that it's not us that's being unreasonable,” he said. “I would really like to think this is the exception that proves the rule. If we've done it for the last 12-13 years I'd like to see us go another 12-13 years without missing one.”

The three-match ODI series between South Africa and New Zealand continues with games on August 23 and August 26.