Only a tiny fraction of the worldwide viewership would have been watching on the UK’s Channel 5, but it was heartening that the match was made available on terrestrial TV here. The Sky Sports Cricket coverage was shared with 5, good news for cricket fans who don’t have satellite, bad news for fans of the latter network’s standard Sunday fare of Friends repeats, Peppa Pig, and Christmas movies (yes, already) so cheesy that even ITV2 turns its nose up. Commiserations to that viewership community but in every war there must be casualties.
The ICC broadcast – long on matey cheerleading and product placement; short on analysis, cojones and wit – makes you realise how good England fans have it with Sky Sports Cricket. Atherton, Nasser Hussain, Ian Ward (and Sky regulars Ricky Ponting and Iain Smith) are in a different league to the ICC lot. The broadcast displayed a Soviet-style refusal to mention off-message events like a protestor getting on the pitch and grabbing Virat Kohli, or pass comment on the delayed, dismal post-match presentations, or the charmless way Modi handed Pat Cummins the trophy and then stomped off, leaving the victorious captain alone and bemused on the stage. It was left to Ward to remark how rum the whole conclusion was.
But never mind the quality, feel the width. If you are a working cricket commentator and you didn’t get the nod from the selectors for this one then I’m afraid it might be time to try another line of work. Literally anyone who is anyone in cricket punditry, and indeed some who aren’t, got a gig. A whole day of your Harsha Bogles and the Sanjay Manjrekars of this world doing their partisan schtick, and the BCCI’s hype-man in chief Ravi Shastri chewing the scenery as never before with a Michael Buffer-style “heavyweight contest… in the blue corner” turn at the toss.