Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Will anyone see England win the Ashes tonight?

The Second Ashes ODI starts tonight (in UK) - actually it starts at 03.20 tomorrow, but that is still the middle of the night here. If England win they will have retained the Ashes, which would be a significant achievement on Aussie soil, and with four games to spare.

Unfortunately for the women's game this will not be available for anyone to see on television - either terrestrial or satellite - as it is not being covered. Only the three T20s that end the series are being shown on television, by which time the Ashes may already have been won.

True you will be able to listen to live radio commentary, provided by the BBC, although they are simply taking the ABC coverage and adding Isa Guha and either Charles Dagnell or Alistair Bruce-Ball to the commentary/summariser's team.

Coverage from Perth of the Test Match was very good, particularly from Daggers and Terry Alderman - knowledgeable, intelligent and fun. Unfortunately the first effort from the MCG was not to the same standard. None of the Melbourne-based male ABC commentators had any knowledge of the women's game and had clearly watched little or no women's cricket. Inevitably they asked Isa Guha the same questions about her career and retirement; became overly-fascinated with the fact that Sarah Taylor had "no pads on"; talked about the men's game; struggled to identify the fielders who "all had blonde pony-tails"; and got excited by the batting power-play (which has little or no relevance in women's cricket). Sorry to say that Alistair Bruce-Ball ("Bless his cotton socks", as my Mum would have said) added nothing, but an English accent. He describes himself as a "football, golf and cricket person" and this clearly showed. I had actually got to the stage where I was about to turn the commentary off, when the livestream feed from the MCG on the Cricket Australia website disappeared. I had no option but to follow the game aurally. It was painful.

Hopefully the livestream will be more robust for the second ODI. It is a great innovation for those of us who are mad enough to want to stay up all night watching women's cricket. Again the stream worked well from the WACA. It was a bit one dimensional and it took me three days to work out that I could replay key moments by winding the stream back, but it worked. At the MCG, when it worked, there were slow-mo replays, which was a plus, although the main camera was not behind the bowler's arm - presumably as the girls were playing on the very edge of the square. I managed to watch only about the first and last hour of play as I swapped between two laptops and a tablet trying to get the streaming to work.

I know I probably shouldn't complain, but I think the women's game deserves better. If you are going to cover the game then get people who know what they are talking about and make sure your systems work. If you do not then you will in fact alienate those who are actual followers and you certainly won't get any new ones.

As I have said the three T20s will be on Sky here in the UK and on free-to-air television in Australia. The guys who commentate on the men will be doing their stuff on the women. Listen out for the incorrectly pronounced names, patronising comparisons to the men's game, and the fact that the men have been hammered in Australia. I will be watching with the sound turned down.



  1. I thought the shambles with web coverage in the 1st ODI was plain rubbish. Goodness me, this the 21st century and Aus has a very advanced infrastructure. I can skype Aus from my home so it cant be rocket science to get the web coverage working ! Lets hope all works for the next 2.
    Spot on about commentary. Some are impressive eg Daggers, some are just ****. Beth Morgan is good in front of the camera and is in Aus so someone get out there and recruit her !

  2. Must admit I find "Daggers" massively overrated. He seems overly aware of his popularity among certain fans. Too often over-does playing up to being a sort of Partridge-esque "character". He's fine when he sticks to the game being played but can quickly become grating when he goes off on his dreary forced comedy musings shtick.
    Alison Mitchell is a vastly superior broadcaster IMO.

    Dagnall's also not immune from frequently going on about the men's game. I do think though that some fans of women's cricket can be a bit too quick to jump on commentary verging into non-women's cricket areas as if this never happens in commentary on men's matches.

    There are frequent references to recent Football matches or some other concurrent major sporting events in men's commentary. It's understandable really as the length and pace of cricket matches makes commentary far more conversational than on most other sports. It's something that tends to occur on golf coverage as well and I don't really have a problem with it within reason.

    One thing I absolutely cannot stand though is when the women's success is referred to as some kind of consolation prize to make up for the men's defeat.