State broadcaster’s deal to show more than 100 hours of live cricket each summer from 2020 is well merited and long overdue, according to a former director of BBC Sport
It is unalloyed good news that live cricket is coming back to BBC television. One of the great national sports is reunited with the one broadcaster that can make big events bigger – and get the whole of the country talking about what they watch. The story of the falling-out between the England and Wales Cricket Board and the BBC feels, happily, to be in the far distant past.
It was two decades ago that live test cricket moved from the corporation to Channel 4 – which, by common consent, did an excellent job of covering the sport. And it was in 2004 that the whole of cricket was frogmarched behind a paywall, when Sky made a knockout offer for a deal which ran from 2006. Again, its coverage has been first-rate but it has simply not been accessible to a majority of the population. The ECB now deserves credit for an imaginative restructuring of its rights package.