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Will Channel Seven's new cricket contract ever match its spectacular Melbourne Cup coverage?

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Expert
6th November, 2018
12

Yesterday, with rain bucketing down on Flemington, Kerrin McEvoy came up with the sporting quote of the year – “I’m getting wet, but I don’t give a stuff” – as he tightly held his coveted third Melbourne Cup jockey’s trophy.

It could be said Channel Seven and Cricket Australia couldn’t give a stuff about the vast majority of cricket fans.

Seven has ignored the first ODI against South Africa and will ignore the next two, and the T20, plus the three T20s against India.

CA and the free-to-air broadcaster have given Fox a massive free kick for those seven internationals, intending to start their new contract with the opening day of the first Test against India, in Adelaide on December 6.

Seven has taken over after Nine’s four decades in charge, which started with Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket in 1977. Nine never missed a game in all that time, but Seven will miss their first seven, and CA should never have allowed to let that happen.

Just another black mark against CA while it banks $1.182 billion in new television fees, that demands all heads to roll on the board for a complete cleanout.

Yesterday, during Seven’s final year of Cup coverage – the Race that Stops a Nation is heading to Ten – cricket-to-be promos featured the likes of Ricky Ponting, Glenn McGrath, Lisa Sthalekar, and Mel McLaughlin all saying, “Hold on, I’m coming.”

Better late than never.

Glenn McGrath of Australia celebrates

Glenn McGrath (Credit: Hamish Blair/ALLSPORT)

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Even though the current Australian cricketers can’t beat time, let alone any opposition, that free kick from Seven has given the far better-qualified Fox commentary team a dream start.

Adam Gilchrist heads the new Fox lineup, with a smorgasbord of talent such as Shane Warne, Mark Waugh, Mel Jones, Kerry O’Keeffe, Alyssa Healy, and Megan Barnard also on board.

Seven may never recover, as the station will flood the screen with commercials once they get cracking, while Fox will be commercial free on a dedicated channel.

But Seven’s biggest hit will be Bruce McAvaney, now the station has lost the Melbourne Cup, and the tennis after four decades from 2020 to Nine in the latest musical chairs of exclusive television sporting coverage.

McAvaney (65) is a sportscasting legend, having covered ten Olympic Games from Moscow to Rio, and ten AFL grand finals, which he will continue to cover – but losing the Cup, and the tennis, will be huge.

Yesterday at Flemington, in partnership with Francesca Cumani, they were simply brilliant on a trying day where Melbourne turned on its worst rain for hours, followed by sunshine for the big race, followed by more rain at presentation time.

For Ten, the McAvaney-Cumani combination will be mighty hard to toss.

But McAvaney will be missing from Seven’s new cricket coverage while he does the honours at the station’s final Australian Open in January, with American Jim Courier – another mighty hard combination for Nine to top.

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No doubt we’ll get used to the new set-ups in the future simply because we have to. But credit must be given to those who have given viewers so much pleasure in the past, and Bruce McAvaney is right at the top of the list.