The BBC has been crowing about how the Ashes home series are “set for free-to-air return”. Let’s take a look at the reality of the situation and some of the different ways cricket is broadcast in the UK.
England won the Ashes in 2005 in what must rank as one of the best moments in sporting theatre for many years. I cried with joy when Rudi Koertzen and Billy Bowden lifted the bails from the stumps at the Oval to signal the first home Ashes win since 1985. But this was a series shown on Channel 4, not the BBC. If memory serves, the BBC didn’t bid for any rights after Channel 4 won the rights. So we had good coverage, good commentary (Mark Nicholas may be seen as a smoothie but from what I’ve seen of him he’s a nice guy, Simon Hughes is excellent, Geoff Boycott tells it straight, Tony Greig and Michael Slater added raw emotion and hype) and highlights at a reasonable (and fixed) time.
People will debate the rights and wrongs of Giles Clarke’s decision to then award the rights to BSkyB. The money received at grass roots club level was sorely needed. Sky’s cricket presentation has improved over the years and is now excellent.
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