Wait until next year

Putting off what could be done tomorrow, today

Tag: ashes

Kevin Howells: An unlikely and unheralded Ashes hero

The AshesSo, the good people of England are very excited that their cricket team is actually doing really rather well. For English cricket fans, it doesn’t get a whole lot better than trouncing the Australians in their own backyard. After two games of a five game series, England are 1-0 up (the first Test was a draw), and *whisper it* look like they just might be strong enough to win their first Ashes series in Australia since 1986/7. Read the rest of this entry »

Are the Ashes Tests going to return to free-to-air television?

Some potentially good news for non-Sky subscribing cricket fans today, with news that the panel established to recommend the ‘listed events’ that should be available on free-to-air television will propose that the Ashes should rejoin that list.

These so-called ‘crown jewels’ are the sporting events that the British government essentially decide should be made available to all, and so cannot just be shown via a subscription channel, such as Sky Sports.

The Ashes were on this list, but were removed prior to this summer’s series, meaning cricketing fans had to either pay a subscription of around £40 a month, or find somewhere else to watch it.

This development is obviously good news for sports fans – free sport is always a good thing. The cricketing authorities are not so happy. The England and Wales Cricket Board have a £300m deal with Sky that would be at risk, and the terrestrial channels are unlikely to pay anywhere near that amount for broadcasting rights.

Clearly, a loss of income isn’t brilliant for English cricket. But is it the end of the world?

I say no. If anything, the cricketing authorities are potentially making a quick and easy buck at the expense of the future of the game. Sure, that money can be put into grassroots development, but what about the continuing popularity of the game?

Far, far less people saw England defeat Australia this year than in 2005. Potential new converts to the game missed out. The next Andrew Flintoff may well have decided against pursuing his interest in cricket, as it wasn’t there for him to watch this summer. While a sport isn’t on ITV, BBC or Channels 4 or 5, is it really mainstream?

Cricket (and sport in general) needs to look at the bigger picture and make a decision. Take the cash now, or build a stronger, larger long-term following?

Sunday in the garden, listening to the Ashes

It’s a beautiful day today. It could get a whole lot better as the Ashes edges towards its conclusion. It could also get pretty tense. Today I’ll be sat in my garden, enjoying the sun and trying to enjoy the cricket, listening to Test Match Special. For such an important day’s play you need the BBC to guide you, reassure you. Maybe if the game swings England’s way I’ll feel safe enough to indulge Sky’s images and flashy gadgets, but not just yet.

Australia have been set a world-record chase – they would essentially have to put in the best fourth innings batting performance ever to win. This should be a cause for optimism, but makes the inner English pessimist in me even more worried. It’s one thing to lose the Ashes, it’s quite another to lose to a record-breaking (read: heart-breaking) effort. And one of the first things any England supporter learns is to never count out the Aussies. Two days to win the Ashes. Two days to see them agonisingly slip away. This is what sport is all about. I can’t wait.

Test Match Special

I’m off work, but can’t really justify, from a waistline and financial point-of-view, five whole days in a pub watching the Ashes. However, my trusty freeview box does offer the ‘red button’ option to listen to the BBC Test Match Special commentary, with an accompanying scorecard.

There’s part of me that thinks this is how cricket should be followed anyway. For such a lenghty and thoughtful game, radio seems the perfect medium, allowing the commentators time to ruminate not just about the action at hand, but paint pictures of the whole scene and articulate the ebb and flow of a five-day event. It also allows the listener to dip in and out of the game, and to carry on with ‘real life’ while the game progresses in the background.

I’ll no doubt dip into pubs now and again over the next five days and catch the odd session, but I’ll be relying on the radio, the internet, my phone and overheard conversations in order to keep up-to-date. A strange variety of media to keep up on a sporting event, but over five days anyone following the Ashes needs to be pretty inventive, resourceful and adaptable to keep up. And that is half the fun.