S.N. Don's blog
Let's not get too excited
So, the announcement on Friday 3oth June was the one that so many cricket fans up and down the UK have been waiting for. The BBC, in a blaze of glory, are to broadcast live TV coverage of English international and domestic cricket. The one blog reader that actually reads my articles will probably regret remembering that it was live Test cricket on BBC television that got me hooked as a youngster.
Test match coverage on BBC television was not good. Whereas they had a really good commentary team, it was frustrating for coverage of an important Test match to be interrupted because of something called Wimbledon or, heaven forbid, horse racing. Channel 4 could do no worse and, other than not having Soul Limbo for the opening and closing titles, did a really good job of their responsibilities. It probably helped that their biggest success was the absolutely brilliant Ashes series of 2005. This was how television coverage should be. I have never been a fan of Sky’s coverage. Charles Colville? Really??? Give me Richie Benaud any day. As for Bob Willis, I doubt that there has ever been a more boring voice anywhere. It really is the sort of voice to play continually to anyone who suffers from anxiety or over-excitement. Just don’t let a manic depressive hear it though.
So what does this new deal bring to the viewer? Home Test matches will still be shown on Sky so we can kiss that one goodbye. What will be shown live is summarised below but won’t come into effect until 2020 and will run to the close of the 2024 season:
2 England men’s home T20 matches
1 England women’s home T20 match
10 T20 matches from the new franchise T20 competition
Up to 8 women’s domestic T20 competition
Highlights packages will also be available of England men’s home Test matches, ODIs and T20s as well as England women’s home internationals.
That live cricket is back on the Beeb is a good thing but I would still prefer to see test cricket as a free to air service. Digital television offers a huge amount of flexibility and adaptability. Even Australia understands the value of Test cricket being available on free to air TV. That said, the new deal is better than nothing and I guess it gives us a chance to speculate who will be heading up the coverage. Thankfully, TMS will still be there and, as I type this, it’s time for the Shipping Forecast.