May 7, 2009

England cricket

Could broadcasters start picking teams?

Martin Williamson

Just how far the ECB is prepared to bend over to earn an extra buck - and it would probably win many limbo competitions – might be gauged by its reaction to ESPN-Star’s reported multi-million dollar bid for rights to cover the planned new domestic Twenty20 tournament, due to launch in 2010.

The Daily Telegraph claims that it is a condition of ESPN-Star's bid that every team taking part in any televised match must contain an Indian player. This will leave the ECB between a rock and a hard place. In the past it has tended to follow the dollar and risk public opprobrium, as evidenced by its decision to take live English cricket completely off terrestrial TV and place it in the hands of BSkyB.

But if it does accede to ESPN-Star's demands, then it raises the prospects of all future bids being accompanied by similar demands. Where does that end? Could we see BSkyB have a place on England’s panel of selectors, or picking overseas players for counties?

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Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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