ITV to show Ashes highlights

Good news – TV viewers in Britain will be able to watch an hour of Ashes highlights on free-to-air television, every day of the series.

ITV yesterday announced they’d secured the rights to the coverage, which will be screened on ITV4, so you’ll need to have Freeview or other digital service to get access.

The idea of cricket on ITV still seems a bit weird, even though the commercial channel covered the IPL earlier this year.

But their coverage should feel very familiar, as it’ll be hosted by Britain’s Best Dish presenter, and not-quite-good-enough- for-England former Hampshire captain, Mark Nicholas.

The actual commentary will come from Australia’s Channel 9, with their traditional cast of Bill “he’s a hero” Lawry, Tony “telecast” Greig, and the animated duck. Personally, watching Channel 9 is a kind of guilty pleasure I look forward to every four years – and I suspect I’m not the only one.

Anything will be an improvement on the BBC’s disastrous Ashes highlights effort in 2006/7, which was thoughtfully transmitted at midnight, just as the next day’s play was getting underway.

Worse, it was presented by Manish Bhasin, a faintly ludicrous fourteen year old who’d seemingly researched the laws of cricket from the back of a very small fag packet. The only – perverse – enjoyment lay in watching Geoffrey Boycott become increasingly exasperated by his idiotic questions. To adapt one of the great man’s phrases, my mum could have done a better job.

Maxie Allen


  • Ch9 provides very entertaining commentary, but it can occasionally become annoying because it’s so incredibly biased – so much so that you get little intelligent / insightful analysis (other than from Benaud of course). All the English bowlers will be described as ‘medium fast’ at best, whilst Ben Hilfenhaus will probably be described as ‘lighting and deadly fast’.

    The current C9 coverage of the Eng v Australia A game provides a case in point. When Shahzad and Tremlett were all over the Aussies on day one, the commentators kept saying how it was a bowlers paradise and 200+ would be a great score. Benaud then came on air and questioned whether the pitch was moving much at all. Instead he simply argued that the Aussie batsmen were late on every shot! Later in the day, when the Aussie tail wagged, Healy or someone claimed Smith’s innings was ‘a cruel and fatal blow to England’s Ashes chances’ or words to that effect! As usual, Richie was right and England sailed to 300+ for five yesterday.

    The Ch9 team is like listening to 5 Bothams and Benaud. Thanks heavens for Richie!

  • Ah yes, but C9 wouldn’t be so much fun without the jingoism. However, is it me, or are they increasingly sounding more like the Billy Birmingham impressions of themselves than their actual voices?

  • The C9 commentators embody the Aussie sports fan. They’re the biggest whingers in the world, and they can’t stand to lose. They act like kids.

    The most satisfying thing about beating Australia is hearing the bleating, the excuses, and then the plain ‘screw you, you cheated’ when they run out of excuses.

    If you haven’t got an Aussie on hand at the crucial moment, Bill Lawrie does the job for you.

  • After the T20 final we heard lots of Aussies complaining that KP and Kieswetter were actually South Africans. It was the same when Lamb smacked Bruce Read for that huge over to win that special ODI in the 1980s. What’s quite amusing is that the Aussies great new batting hope, Usman Khawaja, is Indian! Hypocrisy??? At the end of the day, I don’t think any country’s fans care where players were born as long as they have an affiliation to the country they’re representing. Oh, and did someone mention Kepler Wessels?

    • Well according to The Ch9 commentary team he is Indian! Looks like the Ch9 team are innaccurate as well as biased. They are good value though.

  • I’ve always loved the Channel 9 team. I have to disagree over claims of bias, I believe that, generally speaking, sports commentary on English networks tends to be more noticeably one sided. There is nothing better than watching a good game of cricket with Bill Lawry’s excited commentary summing up the atmosphere. It’s actually disappointing that there are 2 versions of TV commentary, imagine if you had a few English guys and a few Aussies and there was always a mix of 1 English and 1 Australian in the commentary box and this commentary was used in both countries – it would be great!

  • @Andy – have just been watching the (rather good) first night of ITV4 highlights from C9 – and you’re right…they are if anything less biased than Sky, mainly due to not having a Botham. And interestingly, their frontman is English.


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