On the Front Foot: Cricket on the Beeb is a joke but the Empire strikes back

In essence the coverage of cricket on BBC Television is a national disgrace. There has not been any to speak of since they lost the rights to live Test coverage 11 years ago and the perfunctory nature of their occasional forays into the world of highlights merely highlights, as it were, their lack of enthusiasm. It is all they can do to get a Test match score on the main television news bulletins and their lack of zeal, endeavour and obligation to the game is at odds with the general excellence of the coverage on BBC Radio. Anybody who ever moans about Sky having live rights to English cricket – and they should not – ought to bear that in mind. Therefore, it is important to welcome with jubilation and surprise the splendid new series which begins on BBC2 tonight. 'Empire of Cricket' does what it hints, exploring the history of the game in four corners of the British Empire. It begins with England and then visits the West Indies, Australia and India. The opening programme tonight at 10pm examines the development of the game in England taking WG Grace, and how he changed the game forever, as its starting point. Its gripping theme is how the game thrived in spite of the differentiation between amateurs and professionals, gentlemen and players. Some facets are dealt with too lightly, occasionally the narration lacks spark and poetry, but this is to quibble and Alastair Laurence, the producer-director has done a loving job and chosen his contributors carefully. It might even wake up some people in telly at the Beeb in this Ashes year to the fact that they could and jolly well should do better.

Warne not on same page

Two engrossing books are out listing the world's top hundred cricketers. Engrossing, of course, because lists simply are that, part of the fun being to disagree with the compiler and also because these have been assembled by Christopher Martin-Jenkins and Shane Warne. Both are shrewd, experienced judges. CMJ has picked his 100 best of all time, Warne the top 100 of his time. It is nonetheless instructive, the first containing 34 England players and 24 Australians, the second 16 from England, 29 from Australia. A quarter of players make the cut in both books, demonstrating the preponderance of cricket in the past 20 years. Sachin Tendulkar is number one for Warne, nine for CMJ, Adam Gilchrist is 10 for CMJ but only 16 for Warne, Allan Border four for Warne, 55 in CMJ. Fascinating.

T20 out of this world

According to a missive from the ICC, the World Twenty20 can be seen in 218 countries around the world. Considering that there are only 194 recognised countries on this planet, the spread of T20 is indeed worryingly galactic.

Sparks fly in Cardiff

One of the biggest clashes in the Ashes is already being fought. It is concerned with the First Test in Cardiff, already beset by controversy because it is in Cardiff. As part of its revamp, Sophia Gardens has taken (temporarily as with all these sponsorship deals) the name of a public utility firm which deals in electricity. But the Tests themselves are already sponsored by a rival, npower, who are desperate to ensure their competitors are given no publicity and that the ground retains its original name. So it should.

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test