Cricket World Cup: Share in Beeb's last hurrah

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The Independent Online
THESE DAYS, if Sky get their hands on an event, the BBC are usually restricted to the proverbial crumbs from the table. This year's World Cup, though, is a genuinely shared venture, with both stations covering every game live or highlighted.

If you are undished, undigitised or uncabled, though, you will get only 13 matches from the qualifying round live, plus four from the Super Six stage, one of the semis and the final. Still, unless you are taking the next six weeks off, the highlights package the BBC are putting out every match day should do you fine, although you may have to alter your sleeping patterns to accommodate the late-night presentations.

With Channel 4 having filched Test cricket and 500 hours of live action on Sky this summer, it is tempting to see this World Cup as the Beeb's last hurrah. So it is cruelly appropriate that they have lost their highest- profile front man, David Gower, to their satellite rivals, while Tony Lewis's tenure as president of MCC makes him hors de combat.

The BBC does, however, have a secret weapon: no less a cricketing personage than Jamie Theakston presents tonight's preview programme on BBC2. You will not have noticed the erstwhile children's TV presenter popping up in any cricketing context, but you may be familiar with him from the recent newspaper stories about the number of men going for nose jobs who ask for a "Theakston".

More familiar noses will be on show during the event itself - though I'm told somewhat fewer cosmetic surgery patients ask for a "Benaud", "Broad", "Shastri" or "Aggers". In fact the Sky and BBC teams combined constitute a glittering constellation of talent - pick a famous former cricketer and the odds are he will be commenting or summarising at some stage over the next month and a half.

Sky have clearly come on: Charles Colville presented their first World Cup, in 1992, from a temporary studio in the company car park; this time round, their operation matches the BBC for sheer size and complexity - they will have 27 cameras at the final, for example.

BBC radio is in on the act, of course, with extensive coverage on and Radio 4 and the World Service. Listeners on the subcontinent are particularly well served, with ball-by-ball broadcasts in Urdu, Hindi and Bengali. Over here you will need to be online (there's www.bbc.co.uk/urdu and www.banglaradio.com, with a Hindi site coming shortly).

And if there is nothing, absolutely nothing, to push your buttons, there is always the option favoured by the Pakistani fan who, when his side was knocked out of the 1986 quarter-finals by Sri Lanka, shot his television. And then himself.

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