So tomorrow the England cricket team starts the international series against the West Indies. It’s an intriguing series as West Indies is much improved, and Andrew Strauss is captain of the England team for the first time. The BBC’s Test Match Special team is covering it, and it’s going to be an emotional match for them, as their longest-serving member, Bill Frindall, died very suddenly and unexpectedly last week.
However, as has been the case ever since I unwillingly left England’s shores, I won’t be listening to Test Match Special covering England’s overseas Tests. Why? Because TMS is blocked to non-UK listeners when England plays away from home. Now, if this were merely a rights issue–if some other company or broadcaster held the radio rights to broadcast cricket in the US–that would be one thing. But what makes this situation absurd is that apparently nobody holds the radio rights to broadcast these matches in the US, or anywhere else outside of the UK or the Carribean.
Every time I’ve tried to track down why this is so, I’ve reached a dead end. The International Cricket Council says the BBC can’t broadcast away Test matches outside of the UK because they don’t have the rights to do so. The BBC says they want to have those rights, but the ICC won’t let them. Whether “not letting them” means “the price isn’t right” or “the ICC is being the reactionary bastards they usually are” is never let on. I’m fairly sure it’s the latter. All the BBC has to do is flip a few switches on their website to let non-UK residents listen online. Why this is perfectly OK for home matches, but not for away matches, is apparently a great mystery to the ICC. And it’s not like the ICC has been exactly shopping around those away-Test rights to other broadcasters.
In summary, I agree this is not the world’s most pressing issue…but give us a break, Auntie Beeb and Lords of Dubai (aka ICC headquarters). I’ve now been away from the UK for eight years and this mess is still unresolved. It’s bad enough I’m a fan of a sport that nobody in this country understands, and that the TV rights to it here are owned by a network which seemingly learned negotiation tactics from the Cosa Nostra, but to add insult to injury I can’t listen to the ramshackle, sniggering glory that is Test Match Special. As I’m sure Brian Johnston would have said, if he weren’t dead and were drunk, this is an absolutely fucking terrible situation, and people should be sacked, and hues and cries should be heard, and all that rot. Fuck!
England: Right overs through the clover for 15 runs and none out
England: Breakfast (spam and eggs)
England: Lunch (spam sandwiches)
West Indies: Tea (cucumber and spam on cocktail toothpicks)
West Indies: Forthrightly with 57 runs and one
West Indies: Dinner (spam and green bean casserole)
West Indies: Righteously Removing of Bail (left-handed bowler with a reverse twist)
West Indies: Drinks (rum (no spam))
This morning it’s more like “And England are doing well here, and it’s a lovely day here in the West Indies, the weather is beautiful, shame about the 20 feet of snow back home, and Strauss is out! Oh dear.” “Terrible situation there, Henry.”
I think you’ll have to wait until Slartibartfast, Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, and a Chesterfield Couch materialise at Lord’s before the Beeb and the ICC can agree on anything. Heaven forbid Foreigners* might want to listen to the Cricket!
In this context “Foreigners” also includes former colonies, dependencies, and overseas territories who may or may not be better at Cricket than the people who introduced it to them
I’m trying that, although the Beeb saw through the first one I attempted.
Also, normally I’d be happy that the cricket is on during work hours (I’ve been doing some hypermassively dull work over the last couple weeks), but the IT staff here tends to frown on wacky proxy server hijinks.
I just bumped into Michael Holding in the shop. Aparently they’re going to go to the ARG for Sunday. I fumbled my question about BBC overseas coverage so now I know it’s live on 5 in the UK but no inside scoop on the ICC/BBC thing.
Fuck - Duke, my heartfelt sympathy
I’ll have the radio and TV on simultaneously. I love cricket commentary - the more the merrier.
Antiguan stations online: ZDK, Observer Radio - I don’t know if you’d get coverage through either of these. My server’s too slow right now to check.