Live International Cricket: England vs. India
After traditionally being aired firstly on BBC One and then Channel 4, the coverage of Test matches and One Day Internationals (ODIs) are now shown on Sky Sports and are well worth the subscription.
The Sky presenting team consists of David Gower, Sir Ian Botham, David Lloyd, Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain plus sundry other guests. So that’s four England captains and one England coach. The current guest is Indian spin legend Ravi Shastri and a regular each summer is also Michael Holding, one of the greatest of West Indian fast bowlers.
The combination of presenters is interesting and as two are paired together for commentary for each half-hour segment we get to understand their relationships with each other as well. Gower and Botham were England team-mates from the Seventies but whilst Gower plays the urbane, smooth lead presenter, Botham takes on the role of grumpy old pro.
Lloyd was an England player with these two but was also coach of the team when Atherton and Hussain were playing. He is also known as “Bumble” and he bumbles along with daft references, an obsession with the weather in Reading and crowd observations. He is the butt of much of the humour but this is tempered by an immense respect for a test player and coach who has also umpired and has a great depth of knowledge of the game. He also has a great Accrington accent and supposedly once played for the legendary Accrington Stanley Football Club.
Atherton and Hussain are the children, often bickering amongst themselves but are great friends (they keep telling us). Nasser is the latest addition and was initially stilted in his delivery but has settled down to a comfortable pundit. Michael Atherton is the dourest, like his batting, but has a dry wit, which bounces off all of his colleagues. He is also the presenter of the match awards at the end of each game, no one knows why but it seems to work. Shastri just appears lost but carries on like a trooper; Holding is a very cool dude.
The addition of technological wizardry helps with difficult decisions. The use of Hawk-eye, which predicts the flight of the ball, is invaluable for Leg Before Wicket (LBW) to determine if the ball would have hit the stumps if the batsman hadn’t shoved his legs in the way. Hawk-eye was used in the latest match when the umpire adjudged the England captain Paul Collingwood ‘Not Out’. Actually, even a second showing at full speed showed that Collingwood should have been back in the pavilion but Hawk-eye showed us beyond doubt that he would have lost two stumps, if not for his pads. Other technology includes the aging ‘Snickometer’, which listens out for the sound of leather on willow, for edged catches. This is now being superseded by ‘Hot Spot’, which is where infra-red cameras show any contact. All of these are invaluable tools in making the umpire look a complete chump.
The third match in the series between England and India was held at the Edgbaston ground in Birmingham. This is always a good batting pitch. India won the toss and captain Rahul Dravid made England bat first. Last time he did this at the Rose Bowl in Hampshire, England won by over a hundred runs. This time it was closer but the conclusion the same. Man of the Match Ian Bell held the England innings together for most of the fifty overs, with 79 runs, after a good start by the openers, with a nice cameo at the end by bowler Chris Tremlett. In reply, the India team was doing well with long-term greats Dravid and Ganguly both getting fifties, but once they went the rest of the team fell apart.
Sky Sports does an excellent job with its coverage of cricket.