cricket

Cricket is returning to terrestrial TV, the question that we should be asking however, is what gave the cricket authorities in the UK, the ECB, the idea that selling TV rights to Sky, was ever a good idea?

We often hear that business is too short-term focused. In the case of smaller companies, they probably have to be in order to survive, in the case of businesses that are listed on the stock exchange they probably have to be in order to keep the markets happy. But Jeff Bezos, boss at Amazon, focuses on thinking a half decade, or even longer, ahead. It’s a strategy that has paid off, but you need deep pockets, or very patient investors, to pull it off.

But why did the ECB agree to the TV deal with Sky, back in 2005? Okay, it made money in the short run, but it came close to killing the game.

Was it a kind of cricket arrogance? The sport was so popular we were told, that the sport did not need terrestrial TV to appeal to a wider audience.

Ironically, the English cricket team has enjoyed one of its best ten years or so ever, but are its players household names?

Time was when players such as Geoff Boycott, Ian Botham, and David Gower were among the most famous sportsmen in Britain.

Today’s cricketing masters have enjoyed more success, but their names are surely no longer names that all households are familiar with.

It’s the tragedy of the modern game – creating a seemingly inverse relationship with success and fame – although the relationship was not causal.

The problem is that pay TV kills serendipity. The casual viewer, flicking through the channels, no longer chances upon cricket, becoming hooked.

But now the ECB has changed its mind, the sport is returning to terrestrial.

The chief executive of the ECB, Tom Harrison, said: “We have no ambition to be the richest, most irrelevant sport in this country.”

One hopes that the BBC will use the day-time slot, currently unoccupied, to use BBC Four to show the cricket.

But this is a lesson that goes beyond cricket.

Sports such as Formula One, and boxing are suffering in much the same way. Anthony Joshua’s victory recently catapulted him to hero status, but even so, he would have been far more famous in a different age.

Only Channel Four keeps Lewis Hamilton in the minds of the great British public – but a waning effect.

But it goes beyond that too.

The media, in an attempt to survive, make money to pay for their journalists by erecting pay walls.

But as a result, more and more of us only get our news from one source – leaving the way open for the likes of the Mail and begging bowl Guardian.

Unlike the ECB, you cannot blame the newspaper publishers going down the pay route, they have to survive.

But the user is the loser, especially as the BBC is put under pressure by the government to offer less online news.

The serendipitous cricket fan may be returning, but the serendipity in providing the public with an objective view of the news is dying.