Broadcasting and cricket

A brief history ...

Martin Williamson

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Commentating from Lord's in 1935 © Getty Images
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1922 The first radio coverage of a cricket match. Two XIs from New South Wales met at the SCG in a testimonial match for Charles Bannerman. Len Watt, a former grade cricketer, was given the microphone and told to "go on talking".

1924-25 Regular commentaries on Australia v England were given on a local Sydney station. Clem Hill was one of the summarisers. The two Tests at the SCG were covered from a spot in the old scoreboard.

1925 The first ball-by-ball coverage from Australia v The Rest (a Test trial) at the SCG in December. Watt was again the commentator.

1926 Regular radio coverage of Australian state matches starts

1927 The first radio broadcast of a match in England on May 14. The Rev. FH Gillingham, himself an Essex player, gave five broadcasts totalling 30 minutes from the New Zealanders match against Essex at Leyton. Further commentaries followed that summer.

1930 The BBC covered the Ashes in England while the matches are covered in Australia by use of cabled reports. Synthetic reports - local commentaries based on ball-by-ball cables - prove very popular.

1932-33 Synthetic reports broadcast to England by two stations, both in France. Poste Parisien used former player Alan Fairfax commentated from a studio in the Eiffel Tower.

1934 For the first time the BBC gave detailed coverage of Tests

1937 The first female cricket commentator. Marjorie Pollard broadcasts on the England v Australia women's Test at The Oval.

1938 The first shortwave broadcasts directly to Australia, although the quality was poor and subject to frequent breaks. Alan McGilvray gave his first regular broadcasts. In the UK, the BBC employ a scorer - Arthur Wrigley - for the first time to assist the commentator.

1938 The first TV transmission of Test cricket at Lord's. The BBC's experiment was repeated later in the summer at The Oval when Len Hutton made his record 364.

1938 The first overseas broadcast to the UK by the BBC, Jim Swanton commentating on the Johannesburg Test between South Africa and England on Christmas Eve. On the second day - Boxing Day - Tom Goddard took a hat-trick while Swanton was on air. The broadcasts are also heard in South Africa.

1939 BBC radio broadcasts of the West Indies tour are transmitted to the Caribbean.

1939-45BBC TV shuts down for the duration of the war, although radio commentaries on matches continue.

1946 The great post-war era of radio broadcasts begins with John Arlott, Jim Swanton and Rex Alston all joining the BBC. Commentaries on the Indians tour were broadcast on the Eastern Service; Abdul Hamid Sheikh commentates on the same channel in Hindi.

1946 TV coverage now a regular feature. Brian Johnston and Aidan Crawley commentate but coverage restricted to Lord's and The Oval. The building of new transmitters brings Edgbaston into play in 1950 and Old Trafford and Headingley follow in 1952.

1948 Alan McGilvray joins the BBC team as the guest commentator, beginning a tradition which still remains.

1956-57 Television arrives in Australia for the Melbourne Olympics and coverage of cricket starts.

1957 The first uninterrupted ball-by-ball coverage on BBC radio. Until now, broadcasts had switched between the Light and Third service. This was the birth of Test Match Special.

1968 The first colour broadcast of a match by the BBC.

1971 Highlights of the day's play broadcast for the first time. The previous year match highlights had been shown at the end of the game.

1977 A bitter row between Kerry Packer and ACB over broadcast rights - the board were effectively operating a monopoly with ABC - culminates in the formation of World Series Cricket. Packer eventually wins the right to cover matches, and WSC introduces many innovation geared to TV, such as day-night matches, coloured clothing, and white balls.

1990 Sky Sports broadcast an overseas series ball-by-ball for the first time. Previously, occasionally the BBC had only shown deciding matches in Ashes series live. Sky has since covered every major England tour.

1999 After 61 years, the BBC's monopoly of Test cricket in England ends with Channel 4 and Sky winning the rights.

2005 Channel 4's turn to lose out, with Sky controversially winning the rights for all live international and domestic coverage. Fringe terrestrial broadcaster Five wins rights to the highlights.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo

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