Sky's team still has much to learn about coping with a dull day

Sporting history was made yesterday. For the first time in 120 years of winter tours, it was possible to spend Boxing Day at home watching live Test cricket. This is the third time Sky has televised the Christmas Test, but the other two both took place in Melbourne, so you had to go without sleep to see them.

Not that staying awake was easy yesterday. The pitch was as pacy as a sentence from Bob Willis. The South African top order was as dazzling as a comment from Mike Procter. The bowlers had all the bite of a judgement by Ian Botham. Just after tea, I drew up a shortlist of the most exciting moments of the day. It went like this:

9.30am: A cameraman spots that Paul Adams' name has been entered on the scoreboard as ADAMS GOGGO. David Gower smoothly informs us that Goggo, a kind of insect, is Adams' nickname.

10.05: "Forty-nine now without loss South Africa," Charles Colvile says. For those who don't grasp the significance of this, he adds: "One away from notching their 50."

11.10: The resumption after lunch is delayed because there is a problem with the Stumpcam. It is quickly resolved.

11.25: The camera catches Dominic Cork taking a bottle-top out of his pocket. Then it catches him handing it to the umpire. He is having what is known in the trade as a bit of fun.

11.45: Hansie Cronje is caught by Mike Atherton at short extra. "Out!" says Colvile. "Great catch! Great catch!" It is indeed a great catch, but there has never been a catch so good that it fully justified the Colvile shriek.

1.03: After repeated screenings of a fine but illicit diving stop by Robin Smith, the third umpire awards an extra run to South Africa. This is what people have in mind when they talk about the growing power of television in sport.

1.10: Willis notices that the clock on the main scoreboard is an hour fast.

1.24: "Terrific news," Colvile says. "They've fixed the clock."

It was not Sky's fault that the most interesting event in cricket yesterday occurred in Melbourne. But dullness is part of the deal in Test cricket and commentators have to be able to cope with it. Test Match Special, after all, keeps going in the rain.

I'm not sure who coined the phrase "silence is golden" but they were clearly thinking of TV cricket commentary. Sky's coverage has many strengths - the camerawork, the super slow-mo, the extended highlights - but it doesn't have anyone to tell its commentators when to shut up.

Yesterday was the perfect day for a bit of silence. Until Daryll Cullinan got going, there was little to talk about. The average viewer had a sore head. And all day, there was a band playing in a stand - light jazz, more New Orleans than Port Elizabeth. This idea has possibilities: the band could become a sort of Greek chorus, commenting on the action.

They would not get a job on Sky - they are not famous enough. Infinitely richer than BBC Sport, Sky spends its money on big names: Gower, Botham, Willis. None of them is atrocious, but all are out-played by the less celebrated Mark Nicholas.

He talks a lot too, but what he says is lucid and forthright. He avoids the compulsive understatement of some old pros without succumbing to the overkill of Colvileballs. He gushes a bit ("wonderful performance again from Dominic Cork", at 57 for 1), and his voice is a shade too stentorian - the viewer can feel like a foreign waiter taking orders from a retired major. But he has a gift for what he does, not just for what he used to do.

Any criticism of Sky has to be heavily qualified. The bottom line is that they bring you Test cricket on a winter's day - something unheard of before 1990. As play began, the sun was rising here; as the players came off, it was setting. And Boxing Day had been less of an anti-climax than usual.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie