Australia news March 12, 2012

Sheffield Shield final cut from television schedule


Australian domestic cricket's honorary "Test match", the Sheffield Shield final, will not be broadcast on television for the first time since 2007, due to cramped scheduling and the drain of resources created by the Twenty20 Big Bash League.

Due to be fought between Queensland and Tasmania over five days from Friday, the competition decider has been jettisoned from the pay television broadcaster Fox Sports' schedule as it juggles a vast array of football codes and the start of Australia's ODI series in the West Indies.

The logjam of matches is so intense that there was not even room for the final to be squeezed in via the digital multi-channelling option, which had already been reserved for other clashing sports.

While the schedule cram is a primary reason for the final's absence from television screens, the extra production costs of the BBL, expanded from six states to eight city-based teams this summer, is also understood to be a significant factor in Fox Sports' decision.

"More cricket was broadcast over the summer for the BBL and that chewed up a number of outside broadcasts," a spokesman for Fox Sports told ESPNcricinfo.

Instead of television coverage, the final will be webcast by Fox Sports, with two cameras to provide pictures from the Gabba while Brendon Julian and Mark Waugh anchor the coverage and provide commentary from the studio.

"It's a reasonable compromise, the match won't be on TV sets but the webcast means it will be open to all viewers, not just Fox subscribers," the spokesman said.

The Shield final has had a chequered history as a television product, broadcast at various times by Channel Nine, the defunct Optus Vision pay television network and Fox Sports since 2008. Its status as the most important domestic match of the summer has been enhanced by the broadcasts, with most players recognising the chance to place their name in lights by performing in a broadcast fixture.

In 2008, Phillip Hughes, Beau Casson and Peter Siddle all pushed ahead on the queue for Test places by performing strongly in the New South Wales versus Victoria final at the SCG, and all would earn a Baggy Green cap over the following 12 months. Last year the opening batsman Ed Cowan and teenaged fast bowler Pat Cummins both put in noteworthy final displays and were representing Australia before 2011 was out.

Shield matches have been webcast by Cricket Australia and the state associations over the past two summers, though at the Gabba Queensland Cricket had cut a budgetary corner at the start of the season - in order to make more room for the Brisbane Heat BBL team - by removing their internal broadcast cameras for Shield games.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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  • Roo on March 13, 2012, 3:10 GMT

    @Wozza-CY... As I previously posted on another thread - Watching Bird bowl, he is a med-fast bowler (around 130kph - like Anderson & Co.) with exceptional line & length - hits the corridor all day long... A v.g. exponent of reverse swing & like Butterworth would be good to see in UK conditions... He is faster than Copeland (120kph) who could use the extra 10kph to get better advantage from the conditions... @Meety... Lots of people have seen Bird bowl - except couch potatoes that never go to Shield games... lol...

  • Drun on March 13, 2012, 2:03 GMT

    With free-to-air digital TV and the internet, really the only reason to get Fox these days is for the sports. If Fox start dropping the sports, there's really no need to have Fox. Simple as that.

  • Simon on March 13, 2012, 0:44 GMT

    You would think with all the free to air channels now operating in Australia one of them would pick up on this chance. They can play reruns of Macgyver any old time.

  • Daniel on March 12, 2012, 23:44 GMT

    This is really disappointing. How we can let BCCI dictate to ICC all the time? How can one board have all the power and do horrible things to the long forms of the game? How can...oh, hang on a sec.

  • Andrew on March 12, 2012, 23:39 GMT

    @Claydo78 - really? The NSW conspiracy on this thread? Please! @Wozza-CY - that seems to be tie in with what I've heard, J Bird - the man of mystery, I still think it is amazing that virtually nobody has seen him play! The Copeland comparison is a good call, but even Copeland wasn't getting as many as this fella! Whatever his pace, you'd think he would be lethal in England, & given that most of England's premier bowlers are slower than ours, I think the selectors need to back off a bit on the pace obsession.

  • Simon on March 12, 2012, 23:19 GMT

    A game between two minor states has little appeal. Might catch bits of the webcast but free TV I wouldn't bother watching. Just updates and Queensland winning is all I need to know.

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2012, 23:10 GMT

    Foxtel Management, this is a Big Mistake from your end 2 Cricket fans. You can show all other sports from around the world and has no time for Ultimate Australian Domestic Cricket Finals........ Shame on you!!! Cancelling my Foxtel Subcription Today........

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2012, 22:16 GMT

    "Reasonable compromise". What rubbish. BBL taking precedence over Shield, death of the game won't be far away.

  • Warrick on March 12, 2012, 21:45 GMT

    @Meety- re Jackson Bird- I haven't actually seen this guy bowl but from all reports he's 'not express, but puts the ball in the corridor of uncertainty and moves it'. Sounds a lot like a Trent Copeland to me. Hope his career doesn't go the same way as Copelands because unless you fling it down at 145kph the Ozi selectors don't seem to want to know about you. Agree with your comments about Cutting, but for me having Punter in your team & his record at the GABBA, I've got Tassie slightly ahead.

  • Warrick on March 12, 2012, 21:38 GMT

    Disapointed by this decision but not surprised given the CA bias towards the BBL. Agreed this should be the Jewell in the crown of the domestic season, but perhaps it's the product itself? Surely a home draw is enough of an advantage? Why not make it a 'winner takes all' proper test match type final rather than 'a draw and the home team wins'. That is what is affecting the marketability of the product. Make it more exciting & it will be in more demand.

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