Tag: Cricket media (page 2 of 5)

BBC to show “some” live cricket from 2020 as highlights move from Channel 5

The England and Wales Cricket Board has recently accepted that it needs to get some live cricket onto free-to-air TV. The question most of us have been asking is what constitutes “some”.

From 2020 (appropriately enough) the BBC will be showing two men’s and one women’s T20 internationals each summer. They’ve also won the right to broadcast Test highlights from Channel 5. After Champions Trophy highlights were dumped at midnight, Test Match Special’s Jonathan Agnew made it clear that highlights will be shown at prime time, which is something of a relief.

The Beeb will also broadcast 10 men’s matches from the ECB’s new competition, The Hundred, including the final, and up to eight matches from the women’s equivalent, again including the final.

What does this mean?

It means everyone will be able to watch some cricket and with the finals of The Hundred secured, much of that will have some sort of context too. It won’t just be random matches in a competition you can’t follow to the end.

Conversely, you can well imagine the T20 internationals might be the kinds of low priority fixtures we often see played at the start or end of a tour. Or maybe the very fact that they’ll be broadcast live on the BBC might mean a proper turn-out from all the stars. That could prove an interesting development. If that proves to be the case, the next rights deal for 2025 onwards could be an interesting one.

Where’s the rest of the live cricket going to be broadcast?

On Sky Sports – which, considering they announced a channel called Sky Cricket earlier this week, should have been pretty bloody obvious. It was highly unlikely they’d have been keen to devote a whole channel to an insect.

There’s good news there though with talk that you might be able to subscribe to just that one channel, which would presumably work out a bit/lot cheaper.

Currently, the Now TV pay-as-you-go service is our recommendation because you can pay for Sky Sports alone and only for the periods when there’s something you want to watch. Here are the pros and cons of watching cricket via Now TV.

What about Channel 5?

Nowt. We’re a bit sad for them really, because they’ve been holding the fort all this time and have been doing a super job. It’ll be interesting/irritating to see how quickly the BBC get up to speed highlights-wise.


Mike Selvey leaving the Guardian

The Guardian’s cricket correspondent, Mike Selvey, is to part ways with the newspaper at the end of September. “Guardian no longer want 50 yrs intimate knowledge of cricket, cricketers and how game is played for future coverage,” he said in a tweet – later adding the hash tag #abitshitreally to leave us under no illusions that he would have preferred to continue.

This news may seem of no real interest to many of you, but it does raise questions about the changing nature of written cricket coverage. In the absence of any comment from the Guardian, we can only guess why they might have made the decision. In all honesty, nothing especially obvious comes to mind.

History repeating?

In 2008, Selvey was given the boot by Test Match Special. At the time, there was a reference to wanting to make use of ‘more recent Test cricketers’. Since then, they’ve added people like Graeme Swann and Michael Vaughan. Phil Tufnell is from the previous generation and then there is the continued presence of Geoffrey Boycott, who is for many people synonymous with the ‘in my day’ view – despite also holding a number of progressive opinions.

But a newspaper is different. There’s only so much space, so you’re never going to offer such a broad palette of voices. Instead, you pick someone who can write and who knows what they’re talking about and who will find angles that are perhaps unexplored by writers on other newspapers.

Selvey’s writing

We’ve long enjoyed Selvey’s articles. He can occasionally be prone to overloading sentences with far too many clauses, but time pressures can bring wonkiness out in all of us. The content itself was generally intriguing, especially when talking about the mechanics and mentality of bowling.

You might question just how many stories one can wring out of a three-Test career, but it’s presumably decidedly more than can be wrung out of the zero-Test careers enjoyed by the majority of cricket writers. The point is that Selvey’s international playing experience is just one aspect of a longer career that has also included 278 first-class matches and a lifetime spent following the game.

Impartiality

Selvey sacrificed a lot of goodwill among the Guardian readership during “the KP affair.” It was an oddly confrontational time among followers of the sport, but it wasn’t so much for his opinions that Selvey got people’s backs up as for being unable or unwilling to express why he held them.

It was frustrating for the reader to read bold assertions without knowing how they were arrived at. Questioning sorts of people like to see your workings out. Selvey then compounded this disconnect by being slightly tetchy and thin-skinned in the comments section and on Twitter. There will always be someone slagging off your writing online and everyone has their breaking point, but managing that is a vital skill for a modern journo.

We thought of all of this again recently when Selvey made a few dismissive comments about Chris Woakes at the start of the summer and followed that up with a piece talking up Steven Finn after the last Test.

Finn plays for Middlesex, as did Selvey, so we initially felt a bit uncomfortable about his position – but the points made in that article about confidence and implicit messages sent by a captain’s field settings were pertinent and gave ample food for thought. It was a top piece; exactly the kind of thing we’d want to read.

Cost

It’s proabably just this, isn’t it? Selvey has written for the Guardian for 31 years. They probably pay him more than they’ll pay his replacement.

No-one pays to read about cricket in the internet age. Not enough people read about cricket full stop to financially justify the volume of writing we have at present. Something has to give.


Following the protagonist through the formats – players and audience in the T20 era

We had an interesting (to us) chat to Charles Dagnall of Test Match Special (TMS) via Twitter yesterday. At one point he said something closely related to a number of our recurrent themes/hobby horses on this site and we were faintly annoyed with ourself for not having put the thought into words ourself.

We were discussing how people become cricket fans in the first place and more specifically where Test Match Special’s future audience will come from. In response to our comment that some people (not him) seem to think that it’ll arrive fully-formed, grey-haired in blazer and tie, Daggers said: “Much like the actual players who are playing tests via T20, expect audiences to do exactly the same.”

We immediately felt that there was a lot of truth in this; that a hypothetical fan might grow with a player and follow him/her through the formats. We’ve always felt that cricket’s shorter formats offer a route towards Test cricket and we’re also big on the following of a sport being about narrative and characters. Despite this, we’d somehow never taken this to the logical conclusion of one fan following one player to their five-day destination.

To provide some background to the conversation…

It came about after we had bitched and moaned about an article by Roy Greenslade in the Guardian. Roy basically thinks that cricket’s going to die because he sat a child down in front of a session of a Test match and they weren’t instantly enthralled.

He might as well have sat this kid down for episode seven of series three of The Wire. You need to work your way up to and then into these things and to draw conclusions without comprehending that seems almost wilfully wrong-headed.

This is almost certainly unfair, but it seemed symptomatic of the sort of person who became a fan of Test cricket by listening to TMS when they were 10 and who cannot comprehend that others may have arrived at the same destination via a rather different route.

There are many paths. As a 10-year-old, we struggled to sit and watch more than five minutes of cricket. We’d have much rather been doing something else. While that something was quite often cricket, it could also have been football or it may not even have been sport at all.

If that were today, there would doubtless be those who would despair at our impatience and lament modern society’s role in the slow demise of Test cricket. But it wasn’t today. It was 1988. In 2016 we write about Test cricket near enough daily and near enough for free.


Why play Test cricket in the North of England in spring? Why play there at all?

Some have questioned why Tests are scheduled for the North of England in May. The weather has been used as one argument against doing so, but attendances have earned a few mentions too. Let’s take a look at where Test cricket is played in England and when, and examine the merits of the Test schedule we have at present.

Jonathan Agnew asked why we play Test cricket in the North of England in spring in a recent BBC column. To be fair to Agnew, he isn’t advocating spurning that half of the country altogether, but shuffling Tests about so that northern Tests take place later in the year.

“I don’t understand why Sri Lanka have been sent to Leeds and Durham for these opening two Tests.

“You could say that the cold, grey conditions quite likely in the north of England at this part of the year give the hosts their best chance of winning – but there’s much more to it than that.”

Agnew goes on to argue that such scheduling is not what’s best for Test cricket because it exaggerates England’s home advantage and the matches can therefore sometimes become less of a spectacle.

To answer Agnew’s implicit question and the title of this article, one reason to play in the North of England in spring is because it’s actually a drier time of year, so spectators are less likely to experience rain interruptions.

According to Met Office figures, the average precipitation in Durham is 44.2mm in May and 60.8mm in August (raining on 9.2 days in May and 9.6 days in August).

Manchester gets 54.8mm in May and 79.4mm in August; Leeds gets 65.2mm in May and 81.1mm in August; while Nottingham (if that’s the North) gets 51.8mm in May and 62mm in August.

But does the weather negatively affect the cricket?

The conventional wisdom that it swings more when it’s cloudy shouldn’t really apply. Going by the figures above, it’s not really greyer in the North in spring. Even allowing for heavier rain in the summer months, it’s probably on balance less grey.

It is colder though – more so in the east – and this matters because it means pitches aren’t as dry and a juicy pitch will tend to seam more. You could argue that seaming conditions are as valid as any other, but this is, perhaps, another argument that could easily run to a full length article in its own right.

What Test when?

A related point, voiced recently by MCC President Roger Knight, is that Test cricket is ‘thriving’ in London in May and not elsewhere.

This is to a great extent true. But why?

An obvious reason is that London has a bigger catchment area (or, more accurately, a larger catchment population). A simplistic conclusion might also be that this area is more interested in seeing live Test cricket than others. We’d temper the latter with another point though.

Appointment to view

If you regularly watch Test cricket at Lord’s, there’s a very simple thought process at the start of each year: who’s touring and do you want to see them? If the answer is yes, you then decide which day of the Test you would like to attend.

Every touring side plays a Test at Lord’s, both Tests start on a Thursday and barring unusual circumstances, one will always be the first Test of summer. Across the city, it isn’t much more complicated. The Oval always hosts a Test, it is usually the last of summer and as often as not, it starts on a Thursday. Test attendances at The Oval aren’t quite as reliable as at Lord’s.

Now let’s take a look elsewhere. The following thought process applies to pretty much any of the nation’s other Test venues. Who’s touring this year? Is either side playing a Test at your local ground? If so, in what month and on what day does the match start?

It’s not fiendishly complicated, but with every question you lose a bunch of people. If you want to sell something, you make the transaction as straightforward as possible.

A final thought

We could also get into the cost of hosting a Test match and what northern grounds can charge for tickets versus what grounds in the south-east can charge.

The ECB’s bidding process is not just about money, so there’s more to it than that. Nevertheless, speaking as someone living in ‘the regions’, Test tickets now cost more than we’re really happy to spend. We would hazard a guess that the proportion of people who feel similarly has been growing at a faster rate in the North than in the South-East.


Tony Cozier – the man who saw all and knew all of West Indies cricket

Cricket fans moan about commentators a lot, but in general we are well served by our sport. Tastes differ, but very few talk down to us and the majority have the capacity to offer some sort of insight when working in the right environment.

But as the world becomes smaller, even the best broadcasters are becoming more homogenous. They watch the same games, read the same articles and they know the same things about the same players. There’s a slick Dubai internationalism about it all.

Not everyone’s like that though. There are still a select few – generally from the smaller Test nations – who bring a distinct flavour of their region with them. Tony Cozier was of course one.

It is not about knowing the players. Every commentator should know the players. It is about knowing the people. When the West Indies toured, Cozier could tell you not only how a player played, but why he did so. He would know his upbringing; he would know where he learned his cricket; he would know how that player was viewed in the region.

Cozier would know the player’s background better than the player himself did. He would know the history of the club he had played for in his youth and how the island’s cricket and culture had evolved since the last great player from that same club. Some commentators tell you everything they know. It’s not that Cozier wouldn’t – he couldn’t. He could show you the relevant tip of the iceberg but you always got the sense that there was infinitely more left concealed.

In recent years Cozier seemed increasingly pissed off with the chronic ill health of West Indies cricket, but his despair never reached the point of giving up on it. It was almost as if the bouts of impotent frustration would renew his energy to look for solutions – and by the broad bat of Sobers, he had to look hard to find them.

He’d cover the latest spat between players and board, or the latest Test series defeat and you’d forgive him for being worn down by it all. But then next thing you know, he’d be full of cautious hope about Rahkeem Cornwall or someone. That is what you might accurately call irrepressible enthusiasm for the sport.

Cozier was one of the few men with an impartial overview of West Indies cricket. You’d think a man who could take a step back and see things for how they were and how problems might be resolved would be greatly valued, but this doesn’t seem to have been the case.

More than one obituary has mentioned that Cozier recently filed a lawsuit against WICB president Dave Cameron. Cameron pretty much called him a blind old man.

Blind? Tony Cozier? The man who saw all and knew all of West Indies cricket surely had the clearest vision of all.


How will BBC website’s Cricket World Cup highlights work?

If you haven’t heard, the BBC’s secured the rights to publish video highlights of Cricket World Cups on its website. As with most things in our life, we can’t tell whether this is hugely significant or neither here nor there.

The way it’s described, it sounds like short video clips will be an add-on to other web content. A video of all the wickets to have fallen might accompany a match report or a particularly unusual shot might appear within ball-by-ball coverage.

At the same time, the BBC’s apparently allowed to show video clips of up to six minutes per hour of play. For a one-day international – which is what, seven or eight hours – that amounts to a fair chunk of footage. Throw in a bit of punditry and you could make an actual programme out of that. Could such a thing appear on the iPlayer?

Either way, it seems like a good development. We always think that cricket is a sport that lends itself particularly well to highlights. Even live coverage relies heavily on replays of the meaningful bits played between balls, overs and sessions.

In many ways this deal means the BBC will be able to offer the full ‘not really watching but looking up when something happens’ experience.


Mop-up of the day – video killed the internet star

Anyone know how to stop Cricinfo videos from automatically playing?

Action!

In our line of work, we read an awful lot of cricket stories. This sometimes involves opening tens of tabs at a time and we then have to play ‘hunt the video’ when we hear that one or more has started playing automatically. More often than not, a Cricinfo page is the guilty party.

We hate this burgeoning love of video. To be clear, we enjoy the same YouTube rubbish as everyone else and we like video being used correctly where something is added. What we hate – and we mean truly, truly loathe – is the video-instead-of-an-article video where it’s just someone talking to camera.

Videos take too long. You can’t scan them and see what lies ahead. You just have to sit there like a bleeding numbnuts patiently enduring something that may or may not prove to be of interest with no knowledge of what might turn up 12 minutes in. Yeah, you can fast forward, but then you still have to sit and watch for a few seconds to work out what’s going on. We don’t have a few seconds to spare when there’s a whole internet of information accessible to us.

On each of Cricinfo’s videos there is an option to switch autoplay off and then if you click the little sprocket to the right, a ‘save’ option appears. For us at least, this appears to do nothing. As soon as we reload the page – or any other featuring a video – it starts to play.

Any suggestions gratefully accepted.

Also at Cricinfo

And just to underline the fact that we’ve just slagged off one of our employers, our latest piece has just gone up on Page 2. It’s about county cricket monopolising the back pages and smothering other sports.

KP Confidentiel – les secrets de Kevin Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen’s book is out next week. If you know anything about cycling, you’ll be struck that the book has been written by David Walsh, the journalist who hounded Lance Armstrong for so many years.

Walsh is a pretty driven individual himself and some of his interviewees have said they felt that he exploited them to pursue his own agenda. That approach shouldn’t really be relevant in this instance, but it’s worth noting that this is the man KP has in his corner.


Ashes Test highlights are on what channel?

They’re on Pick. You know… Pick!

Yeah, you do. It’s the one you always skip past on your way to Eden when you think that maybe, just maybe, you’ll fancy watching something informative if exactly the right sort of programme just happens to be on. But it isn’t, so you put How I Met Your Mother on instead, ignoring it completely while you pointlessly cycle through the same five pages on the internet, hoping that one of them has changed since the last lap.

Pick is apparently what used to be Sky Three. We sort of remember it changing, but not really. It mostly run repeats of stuff like Dog The Bounty Hunter and Most Haunted. We also note that it is showing When Vacations Attack in the early hours of tomorrow morning, which sounds like a classic. We daresay that programmes of the oeuvre ‘World’s Blankiest Blanks‘ feature heavily.

This is to say that it’s probably not where you’d go looking for Ashes highlights on free-to-air TV. However, it is where you’ll find them. A full, hour-long highlights programme, culled from Sky’s coverage, will show at 10pm the day after each day’s play.

Because it’s a Sky channel, you’re probably assuming you don’t have it, but you almost certainly do. It’s just that you haven’t noticed it before because it’s rubbish.


Massive error on Cricinfo homepage

This is pretty much unforgivable. Reporting on the Women’s World Cup, they’ve gone with:

“Spirited WI make it to maiden final”

Clearly, it should be: “Spirited WI make it to maidens’ final.”


Sky’s World Twenty20 studio pundits

There is a very different feel to Sky’s coverage of the World Twenty20. It’s not the usual Test match team of presenters and pundits and we’re quite thankful for that.

It’s not that Sky’s coverage is normally bad. It’s just very familiar. That David Gower and Ian Botham world can get a bit wearing.

“Just saw Gatt. He’s fat, isn’t he?”

“You like to stay up late drinking, don’t you Sir Ian?”

When these guys talk cricket, that’s fine, but the bonhomie can seem rather tired. Gower and Botham in particular have been doing virtually the same things together for the last 30 years. Sometimes they even seem aware of that themselves.

In contrast, the guys in the studio for the World Twenty20 appear to be genuinely enjoying themselves. It was Ian Ward, Paul Collingwood, Marcus Trescothick and Jimmy Adams yesterday. They seemed to spend about half the time laughing, which was quite endearing.

That isn’t to say they’re just dossing about though. They joke, but they make serious points. It’s striking how they have very specific things to say about Twenty20 cricket and you realise that the sometimes faintly sneering or dismissive tone that accompanies the summer coverage of the format is perhaps borne of the ignorance of the older presenters.

We wonder how much of this is down to Ian Ward. He is very good nowadays. Genial and easygoing, but unmistakeably in charge. He’s like a cool teacher who jokes with the kids and somehow cajoles them into doing work at the same time.

We would never marry Bob Willis, so we don’t see why we have to spend quite so many hours looking into his cold, dead eyes, wondering whether he’s plotting to kill us. We haven’t seen Nick Knight doing that thing where he asks himself questions before refusing to commit to an answer either, so maybe he’s not involved. It’s good to have a change.


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