Thursday, 5 February 2009

Aaaaargh - Hands off my crown jewels

Do I have the right to SEE Strauss trudging off for "not very many"? Shouldn't I get to SEE Pietersen's new facial hair blowing in the trade winds? We're following progress in Jamaica from the icy reaches of Edinburgh, but I'm not going to be able to see any of it.

When I was a lad, you could while away a long, rainy, summer's day watching LIVE test cricket beaming in from sunnier climes. In the multi-channel SKY world things are very different.

The rights and wrongs of ECB's most recent cricket deal are a complicated business. You could argue about the impact of all this TV money on cricket development (in England NOT the UK) and the arcane wranglings that lie behind the UK's statutory categorisation of "class A" and "class B" sport events. There's law that determines what sports events are ring-fenced (the crown jewels of the nation's sport) and MUST be shown on free-to-air TV ...

It's a strange business. What on earth is the logic of the "class B" cricket entry that currently protects the highlights of "test matches played in England". Why oh why oh why would I be more likely to want to see a test from Nottingham than one from the Windies?!

I can understand why LIVE test cricket on the free-to-air TV might be difficult, but highlights? You can't even guarantee seeing 3 seconds of this current test on the news!? What sort of profile is that for the sport?

What is undeniable is that many kids can not be exposed to cricket in the way I was - and this is very short-sighted. Even if TV-money IS being pumped into grass-roots cricket in England, it's still dodgy. The impact of a test series such as "Botham's" in '81 (or Ashes '05) was absolutely huge. EVERYONE was tuning in to see what happened. (Cricket Scotland are doing well, but there is an impression that they are concentrating mostly on the upper reaches of Scottish cricket - your average joe from a state school in Bathgate is still quite unlikely to come across cricket, on TV or otherwise).

So what do you do?

1. Subscribe to Sky? About £40 a month to get a package that includes cricket (and hundreds of channels of PAP). SKY sports presenters tend to make me feel queasy.
2. Streaming broadcasts on the PC? Mmmm. My pc hasn't been very happy with my recent attempts. And it seems SKY might be ahead of the game and have hired some big heavies with sticks to stop those shenanigans.
3. Errr. That's it, short of using your imagination and filming it yourself, with some friends, in the garden.

Well, there's talk that Twenty20 games will be ring fenced for free-to-air live transmission when the current list is reviewed. Great. Better than a poke in the eye with a stump. And praise be Test Match Special on the radio.

PS - if you can be bothered, there are some good discussions of the cricket on tv debate here
and here .

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