The Mail on Sunday report that ECB have vetoed Sky Sports’ plans to hire Kevin Pietersen as a commentator for the Ashes.
England cricket chiefs blocked a move by Sky to secure Kevin Pietersen’s services as a commentator for the upcoming Ashes over fears he would continue his stinging criticism of his former team-mates.
The Mail on Sunday understands that senior figures at Sky explored the possibility of employing the exiled batsman, who was banished from the England ranks following a ‘breakdown in trust’ with management and players.
But nervous ECB chiefs indicated that they would be deeply uncomfortable with him commentating during the Ashes series.
‘It was made clear that Pietersen’s presence in the commentary box would not be welcomed by the ECB,’ a Sky source told the Mail on Sunday.
If this is true – and tales like this invariably have a kernel of veracity – then three points.
Is there no end to the vindictiveness, childishness, and control-freakery of the ECB? Can you imagine any other organisation of their ilk – except FIFA – going to such lengths to punish a player for speaking out? How arrogant, petty and thin-skinned must they be? And what convinces them of their right to tell broadcasters who they can or cannot employ?
Ofcom should investigate. It is categorically forbidden – and ethically improper – for the subject of any programme to exert editorial control without this being made clear to viewers. If a television show discusses or appraises a third party – a performer, a company, a sports team – then a viewer will assume they’re making an objective assessment. But if that subject has veto over what’s being said, the viewer is deceived.
To put this another way: the role of the Sky Sports commentators is to provide dispassionate analysis of the play they are describing, the performance of the England team, the team in general, and by extension the people who run the team (the ECB). But if the ECB are choosing which commentators are allowed to discuss the ECB – we end up living in cricketing North Korea.
Imagine if this vital principle went to the wall. Every sporting body would be entitled to dictate the editorial content of the coverage. Commentary would become an advert, not an independent critique.
The third point is this: why on earth are Sky giving in to the ECB? The latter need the former far more than vice versa. What would happen if Sky told them to mind their own business? Would the ECB run away with the ball?