I’ve just received the following press release, jointly issued by BSkyB and the ECB.
In these times of supporter disaffection and falling attendances, it’s good to see that Giles Clarke has got his priorities right.
There are quite a few things I could say about all this, but I’ll let you go first.
ECB AND SKY SPORTS RECOGNISE 200TH LIVE ENGLAND TEST
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Sky Sports will this weekend celebrate the 200th live England Test match to be screened by the broadcaster.
The landmark moment in televised cricket will be recognised by an on-pitch presentation by ECB chairman Giles Clarke to members of the Sky Sports commentary team at tea on the third day. Sky’s coverage will also feature various highlights from Sky’s first 199 live England Tests.
The fifth Investec Test match between England and India at the Kia Oval is the 200th live England Test shown by Sky Sports. Sky’s first live England Test match was against the West Indies in the Caribbean in 1990 and the broadcaster has followed England live every year since. In 2006, Sky began showing England exclusively live at home and was recently awarded a BAFTA for its coverage of last summer’s Ashes for the first Investec Test at Trent Bridge.
To mark the occasion, the England men’s and women’s teams wore caps embroidered with ‘200’ in team photos this week. The caps will be signed by the players and Sky commentary team and auctioned to raise money for Cricket United.
ECB chairman Giles Clarke said: “I want to congratulate and thank Sky for their commitment to Test cricket. In the last 199 Test matches they have grown into not only an outstanding broadcaster but also an excellent partner and supporter of the ECB and all cricket in England and Wales. I agree entirely with the opinion that we are living in the golden era of television commentary and that has been down to the brilliance of the Sky commentators and production.
“The funding that Sky’s investment in cricket has produced has also led to a period of unrivalled success on the field for not only the England senior side but also the England women’s side, who have also featured regularly on Sky. In the past 199 Tests Sky have captured some of the iconic moments of England cricket – importantly both home and away. I stress away because until 1990 seeing an England tour in its entirety was unheard of and that, through Sky, has changed forever.“
Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports added: “We’re extremely proud of our partnership with the ECB and the impact our investment has had on the game at all levels. We put cricket at the heart of everything we do, using our coverage to entertain, educate and enlighten. Our commitment to cricket also includes extensive coverage of women’s, county and youth matches and we look forward to following England for many years to come.”
The ECB’s partnership with Sky has resulted in a significant investment in all areas of the recreational, first-class and international game. Since Sky Sports became the ECB’s principal live TV broadcast partner in 2006, the ECB has invested nearly £150 million in grassroots participation and improving facilities, and the Sky Sports ECB Coach Education programme trained over 45,000 coaches over five years. England women’s cricketers have been awarded professional contracts for the first time, and specialist coaches have been appointed. More than £10 million has also been invested in infrastructure including drainage and floodlighting, with a further £18 million available as interest free loans to support investment in improved stadia and facilities.
Since broadcasting the first ever live ball-by-ball coverage of an overseas cricket tour in 1990, Sky’s live England Test coverage has featured 206,456 runs, 6,183 wickets and 66,723.3 overs in 199 Tests. Every one of England captain Alastair Cook’s 108 Tests has been played on Sky, and Brian Lara’s two world record-breaking innings both took place live on Sky Sports.