BT Sport has won the rights to show the 2017/18 cricket ashes series. The words so and what apply. It’s good news for the administrators and it will certainly be good news for the elite players who will be wallowing in cash, but to the ordinary woman and man in the street who refuses to throw a large fortune at the pay TV channels, it means nothing.
Actually, it means less than nothing. Cricket, for whatever reason(s), is on the decline anyway. Whilst it thrives in certain large clubs, in the cities and at smaller clubs, participation is at its lowest level in years. Hiding away cricket for the more affluent middle classes who can afford to pay the subscriptions will not reverse this trend.
With the BBC under full frontal assault from the government, there is no chance of them bidding for live cricket, but I do wish they would try to obtain at least a highlights package. Surely, if they can afford to show the tedium of the Formula 1 procession, they can shell out a few quid on nightly highlights? I am sure Channel Five does a good job, but it is regarded among TV viewers as nearer Dave than the BBC. If it’s on C5, it can’t be important.
The ashes in Australia will in any event be played out before a tiny audience because it’s in the middle of the night, so it will make very little difference. It’s the absence of cricket at home that worries me.
Cricket is a great sport, arguably far more interesting than the ugly mess football has become. Rather than stand by and watch it further decline, the authorities have the opportunity to expand the game by further exposure among the general population.
Preserving cricket for a small minority will ensure the decline continues and no amount of money will stop that happening.