ITV4 Test highlights programme begs a few questions

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Yesterday we let you all know that ITV4 are broadcasting Test highlights for this Bangladesh v England series. We suggested that if you missed the programme at 7pm then you might be able to catch it via ITV’s on-demand service. We may have misled you there. Doesn’t look like it’s gone on.

So did anyone actually see the programme? We found it fascinating. The commentary is provided by Ed Smith and Jonathan Trott and… that’s it.

Presumably the pair of them are holed up in some sort of commentary hovel in a squalid London suburb – but how does it work beyond that? Are they talking their way through every hour of every day of the Test? That’s quite a shift. They must be driving each other mental.

In theory, the production team could put the visuals together and then the two of them could commentate over just an hour of footage, but that would make it harder to hit that 7pm deadline and we’re pretty sure you’d also be able to tell. There would be a distinct that-thing-we-already-knew-happened-just-happened tone to it all.

Maybe they pace themselves, ignoring dot balls and singles and only opening their mouths when something eventful happens. You’ve still got to stay alert though. Even the umpires get some sort of rest every other over.

We’re fascinated to see what state they’re in by day five. Trott will be fine, obviously. He’ll just mark his guard, pick up his mic and press on. Smith though… we reckon Smith could snap.


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  1. I’ve seen how they do it on Five and it seems that they do commentate on notable events just AFTER they’ve happened. They’re not doing every ball. Haven’t seen the ITV4 stuff. Sounds interesting!

    1. Interesting. That’s quite impressive acting from the commentators, in that case. I’d have thought that sort of approach would really stand out.

      Maybe it will now we know.

      1. I did know (I think Simon Hughes wrote a piece about it in the early days of the Channel Five stuff) and thought it was sometimes pretty obvious.

        Frankly, I don’t much like highlights in any form.

        I do rather like the Sky verdict and find that the stuff I might want to see if I missed it – wickets, milestones, an especially impressive shot or three – tends to be shown in the verdict anyway.

        Ed Smith in the role of post-hoc rationalisation commentator makes a great deal of sense – his CV points towards that role in so many ways.

  2. I actually hadn’t realised it was Trott on the co-commentary. That would however explain how I sat through the entire hour’s highlights without really paying attention and at the end of it couldn’t really recall anything of note having happened.

  3. Should England play four seamers and 1 spinner in the Subcontinent?Seam bowling is England’s strength ,then why should England automatically choose 3 spinners just because England are in the Subcontinent ?Sounds like a stereotype .

    1. Seam bowling doesn’t seem to have been their strength in this match. They should probably have picked four spinners and dropped a seamer.

  4. “Even the umpires get some sort of rest every other over.”

    Chipping in as a village cricket umpire to disagree with this – even if you are stood at square leg then not paying attention does provoke the wrath of the fielding team who find themselves unable to appeal for stumpings and run outs. If they are the home side and tea is yet to be served this can lead to significant punishment.

    Plus you still spend most of your time counting to six, this being by far the most cognitively demanding task in umpiring and the thing the standing umpire is most likely to get wrong.

    1. To add to this I’ve also done live commentary on my little online feed and it’s miles easier, though a full session is usually enough to make you want to skip the next one.

    2. We did say ‘some sort of rest’ as we were aware the person in question is not technically idle.

    3. International umpires are instructed not to stand at square leg, because they”d block the camera’s view. They loiter at backward square leg and refer any decision to the TV umpire.

  5. Ed Smith will be fine. If he gets stressed out, he’ll just find someone else’s commentary to copy.

  6. Great juxtaposition between ITV4’s blockbuster movie soundtrack and the silence in the crowd when a wicket falls.

  7. Daisy is keen to see these ITV4 highlights given all the chat about them around here.

    “Good news” is, the TiVo at the house somehow seems to know that we like cricket, so it has been recording the ITV4 highlights without instruction.

    How on earth could the TiVo possibly have worked that out?

    1. OK, here is Daisy’s review of the Day Two ITV4 highlights:

      Music – over-dramatic nonsense – too awful to describe any more than that.
      Michael Vaughan – better than expected.
      Peter Perfect – irritating beyond belief.
      Overall – better than nothing if you don’t have Sky, but not a patch on the Sky verdict. Can’t ITV do better than this?

  8. Trott was on the Verdict on Sky as well – how does that work? He seems to be very busy!

    1. He skived day two of ITV4’s highlights with Michael Vaughan alongside Ed Smith instead. Who’s it going to be on day three?

  9. Jonathan Agnew and Daniel Norcross never appear together on TMS. A Tabloid comment maybe, but it can’t be coincidental.

    1. Is it not just that they’re both commentators and TMS always has one commentator and one summariser?

      Feel a bit like we’re giving an actual answer to a joke here. Apologies if that’s the case. We didn’t sleep well.

      1. Oh sorry, we thought you were just asking whether that was still lingering. Didn’t actually occur to us you might not know about it at all.

        There are readers of this site who could tell that story in quite some detail, we suspect – but won’t.

        For what it’s worth, we heard the two of them in conversation earlier in the season when Norcross was covering the domestic games and Agnew was on Test duty, and it sounded perfectly good-natured. Beef detection: negative.

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