Yes, Poms who have paid good money to a British broadcaster and deserve better. Poms who do not expect to have the score displayed in the Australian format of wickets fallen before runs scored. Poms who might want bowling speeds in miles per hour rather than solely in kilometres. Poms who struggle to swallow classifying countries as singular nouns when told that “England wins the toss and bats first”.
Call it nit-picking, but when a customer shells out significant money they expect a better product. When Channel 4 took the global feed after picking up the last-minute broadcast rights to England’s tour of Sri Lanka earlier this year, there was sufficient goodwill that Test cricket was back on free, terrestrial television to compensate for any inadequacies. Not so with a paid-for specialist sport provider.
BT Sport’s broadcast had already begun in embarrassing fashion when an audio problem caused the opening credits and presenter Matt Smith’s initial address to be drowned out by feedback, rendering Smith mute as viewers nationwide wondered why they could hear nothing but a prolonged beep.
A camera issue with the Fox Sports feed then left viewers unable to watch the pre-match coin toss, with footage limited to a fixed camera embedded in a stump facing the wrong direction. Only halfway through Joe Root’s on-pitch interview did the correct camera kick into gear and the England captain became fully visible on screen.
The BT Sport set-up itself was low-key, with Smith joined in the London studio by your nan’s favourite Sir Alastair Cook, and ebullient but not entirely eloquent Steve Harmison. On-the-ground coverage was provided by two Australians in serial 5-0 Ashes predictor Glenn McGrath and journalist Mel Farrell. There were few gadgets or gizmos.
Never was the ‘no-expense-needed’ approach more evident than when Smith was bizarrely tasked with discussing the upcoming series with a group of poorly pixelated ‘sofa super fans’ on video calls. Who needs expert analysis and insight when you can ask the opinion of a student pulling an all-nighter in Leeds?
That BT Sport failed to even mention the racism scandal that has overshadowed English cricket in recent weeks – allowing Cook to continue his silence on the matter – was both shameful and negligent.
Perhaps we have been spoiled by Sky Sports’ exemplary cricket coverage over the years, but viewers expect more.
As injured England quick Jofra Archer posted on social media just before the start of play: “Do I really have to get BT to watch this?”