Anorak News | Passing The Test

Passing The Test

by | 13th, September 2005

‘ENJOY the Ashes? The next time the contest’s on, in Australia 2006-7, you’ll have to pay Sky to watch, or else sit in a pub with a 24-hour licence, cable access and a telly high on a wall.

Why can’t we get a dish on the roof like the Bothams?

Of course, Sky’s coverage might not be all that bad. The broadcaster never misses a ball, and such is the hype and hoopla of sport on Sky we can expect more nodding heads in studios than ever before and perhaps a camera strapped to Andrew Flintoff’s head.

When cricket decamped to Channel 4, leaving the warm and cosy tea-socked environs of the BBC, we feared the death of the game.

There would be breaks for adverts, wickets would fall while that chap from Brushstrokes was extolling the vitues of washing his car in floor cleaner. Games would be won and lost as babies were bathed in hyper-sensitive lotions and mum made chips in a toaster.

In the drive to be edgy and inclusive, or at least look it, there’d be female commentators and associated docu-shows on the role of gay men in cricket and whether or not WG Grace was really a feminist woman who refused to depilate.

But nothing bad happened. In fact, it was better than the BBC. The coverage on Channel 4 has been superb.

Simon Hughes, who spent the better part to the summer stuck in a dark truck dissecting the game with an editing suit and his knowledge, was genuinely informative.

That Channel 4 wanted to woo new viewers to the summer game was clear. Hughes would tell them what they were watching and what to look out for. This he did. And he also told many seasoned cricket watchers what was going on. Watching cricket is so much about off-the-ball goings on – passing round plates of salmon sandwiches and getting smashed. Many of us are familiar with the game’s terms, but have no idea what they look like in practice. Hughes plugged a gap.

And then there was Mark Nichols, the nice-haired anchor man. If ever there was a man to show us how stuffy Tony Lewis and the old stagers on the Beeb were, it was Nicholas.

Unlike so many of the BBC’s old cricket gang, photogenic Nicholas looked liked he wasn’t around when Queen Victoria was a young gel, and managed to be enthusiastic without gushing.

Richie Benaud, who may very well be Queen Victoria, seemed to have been given a new lease of life on Four. The Test at the Oval was his last commentary in this country, but at 75 he kept pace with Nicholas and continued on his own smooth way.

Of course, all this was helped by the cricket, which was enthralling. Cricket has won many new fans.

Problem is that fewer of them will be able to watch the Ashes next time round.’

Posted: 13th, September 2005 | In: Celebrities Comment | TrackBack | Permalink