Who really matters in English cricket?



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.


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.


  • Take a few deep breaths Maxie and ignore it – it’s a fairly standard operation for an organisation and its key broadcaster to engage in a bit of mutual back-slapping and appreciation.

    It’s a fairly typical Sky move to big up how important they are to sports that they cover – it’s in their DNA to hype the most insignificant sporting event at every chance they get.

    Marketing fluff, no more, no less.

    I’m beginning to worry about your blood pressure Maxie – is there any way that James can stage an intervention and block your online access to the Mail, Sun and Telegraph sites and position a few brown paper bags next to your laptop in case of Selvey-induced hyperventilation.

  • To be fair, I think it’s shocking that test cricket isn’t on terrestrial, but you have to admit, Sky do pump a lot of money in and they do cover cricket fairly comprehensively – love the fact they cover the odd championship game as well as all the one day stuff.

  • I have no problem with Sky bigging it up. What irks is the ECB’s craven pandering to them. Does 200 matches as rights holder really justify Clarke making an on-field presentation to the commentators? Or putting ‘200’ on the caps?

    • Is there anything about the ECB that doesn’t irk you?

      The ECB are like any national governing sports body, run by the blazeratti. Giles Clarke has been voted in 3 times, so has a pretty convincing mandate from those that have a vote. I dislike him because he loves the limelight and I loathe the machinations at the ICC, but given that I’m not about to become a member of a County and start politicking my way up the echelons of English cricket administration, I have to accept that he’s there by right and separate it from my support of the players on the pitch.

      • No – they’ve done a lot for women’s cricket, and disability cricket too.

        They don’t get everything wrong with their management of the England team.

        But it’s this kind of thing – their puffing up of Sky – which *really* irks me. As Mark says, below, no mention of the viewers (ie – us) who actually pay for all of it. Saying Sky are committed to cricket is like saying Esso are committed to petrol – for them it’s just a commodity, stock they buy to control the marketplace.

        I have no problem with Sky Sports themselves, but for the ECB to agree (or suggest?) to prostituting the team and the test match for Sky’s marketing purposes is even more beyond the pale than I thought them capable of.

  • I find it astonishing that at the home of cricket (referring to Britain not Lords) there is no free to air broadcast of home games. Even here in South Africa Home games are broadcast although you also have the option to view on DSTV in HD.

    Home games are broadcast after the result of a court case argued that a national team competing in international sport at home was deemed to belong to the public rather than a private broadcaster.

    In Australia where the vile Murdoch owns nearly all avenues of media, channel 9 retain home and international rights for free to air broadcasting.

    It is often argued that the commentary on 9 is pretty rubbish and that’s as maybe but it’s thanks to channel nine that world cricket and it’s viewers have access to the on pitch mat that became hawkeye, Snicko and hot spot.

    There should be free to air options in every country.

  • Well football didn’t exist before Sky and the Premiership came along, don’t you know? So it is no different really. Us old sods just roll our eyes at the cynical corporate clap trap.

  • It is breathtaking in its arrogance, and obnoxious nature. Notice there is not a single mention from either Giles Clarke or Sky of the paying subscribers. These are the real people who have funded all the projects the ECB boast about.

    How deeply embarrassing that the players of both men and woman’s teams are forced to pose for photos with caps with 200 on them. They might as well all have giant Mickey Mouse puppets sticking out of the top of their caps, and Pringle and Selvey singing “Happy days are here again.”

    And they finish the press release with their 2 highlights of the199 matches they have covered by naming ………..”Every one of England captain Alastair Cook’s 108 Tests has been played on Sky, and Brian Lara’s two world record-breaking innings”

    Jesus wept. Captain cults 108 tests is the high light, with Lara’s 2 world records reduced to a supporting act. Never mind all the other great players and performances they could have listed. I wonder if Giles Clarke wrote that bit of the press release? And will Shane Warne be one of the Sky commentators who will be “presented” to Clarke at the vomit inducing ceremony?

    Every time you think The ECB can’t go any lower they manage to fall another few floors.

    • Is there any truth to the rumor that there will shortly be a a statue of Cook erected at Lords in which he is ensconced on a throne made of bats of vanquished foes ala game of thrones, while he holds aloft the severed head of Kevin Pietersen. He will of course be flanked by two chained dragons with the snarling visages of Broad and Andersen. His right foot will apparently be on the throat of a supine Mitchell Johnson.

      The tableaux will be erected at the expense of Sky TV and Giles Clarke will lead weekly pilgrimages of those inside cricket to pay homage, while Downton will act as security tasked with keeping out the riff raff, otherwise known as those outside cricket.

    • A little perspective never went amiss – it’s a photo op and a bit of branding on the kit…..

  • This makes quite angry, did the BBC ask England to promote them for all the years that they covered test cricket? What next the Allen Stanford 10 year celebration of T20 limited edition kit?

  • Drainage – it’s the only thing they know how to do – Every time Clarke opens his mouth words just fall out – they have not fixed the drainage


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