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Stand by for the start of the new television cricket war

5th December, 2018
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5th December, 2018
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When ABC television covered its first cricket Test in 1958 at the Gabba it was between Australia and England, captained by Richie Benaud and Peter May.

The coverage was on film through the lens of just one 16mm camera. The bowlers ran away from the camera at one end, towards the camera at the other. It was pretty basic.

The Australians, in batting order, were Colin McDonald, Jimmy Burke, Neil Harvey, Norm O’Neill, Peter Burge, Ken Mackay, Benaud, Alan Davidson, Wally Grout, Ian Meckiff and Lindsay Kline.

The England team comprised Peter Richardson, Arthur Milton, Tom Graveney, May, Colin Cowdrey, Trevor Bailey, Godfrey Evans, Tony Lock, Jim Laker, Brian Statham and Peter Loader.

Sadly not one of those Englishmen is still with us, and only four baggy greens are still alive to recall that test, those being Harvey the senior at 90 years 59 days, McDonald 90 and 19, Davidson 89 and 174 and Meckiff 83 and 333.

Australia won by eight wickets, with O’Neill on debut scoring 34 and an unbeaten 71.

It was Test number 460. Today’s in Adelaide will be Test 2333.

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In between came Kerry Packer in 1977 with World Series Cricket on Channel Nine to revolutionise the grand old game with multiple cameras, a catchy theme song, one-dayers in pyjamas and at long last the players being paid what they were worth, not being used as amateurs by the Australian Board of Control for International Cricket.

It was a win-win for everyone across the board.

That was 41 years ago, and with Nine and Ten no longer in the mix, what will the new boys on the cricket television block bring to viewers? It’s a virtual cast of ‘thousands’.

In the blue corner is the Fox team of Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Mark Waugh, Isa Guha, Mel Jones, Ellyse Perry, Allan Border, Brendon Julian, Mike Hussey, Michael Vaughan, Darren Lehmann, Brett Lee, Kerry O’Keeffe, Ian Healy, Andrew Symonds and Mark Howard.

In the red corner it’s the Seven team of Ricky Ponting, Glenn McGrath, Michael Slater, Bruce McAvaney, Damien Fleming, Brad Hodge, Alison Mitchell, Mel McLaughlin, Abbey Gelmi, Lisa Sthalekar, Greg Blewett, Simon Katich, Jason Gillespie, Dirk Nannes and James Brayshaw.

It’s a relief to see Michael Clarke and Mark Nicholas have been ignored by both stations, who have 31 commentators between them.

Detail view of a TV camera

(Kai Schwoerer-IDI/IDI via Getty Images)

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Clarke won’t be missed with his persistent self-promotional comments – “When I was captain I would have …”, or “If I were captain now, I would …” – nor would an Englishman like Nicholas be missed as the head honcho of an Australian cricket summer.

It will be far better this summer with Gilchrist and Ponting the honchos; it’s just a damn shame they can’t be together with Mark Waugh, as the talented trio made the Big Bash boom on Ten.

But Fox was quick enough to grab Gilchrist and Waugh first, so little wonder Seven made an early beeline for Ponting.

It’s nice to see Seven eventually get off its butt to cover the cricket they paid a fortune for, having ignored the three international T20s against India.

Today is Seven’s debut, having given Fox a handy head start.

Prediction: Fox, with the more experienced commentators and a dedicated channel with no ads during the cricket, will give Seven with ads every over the same treatment Fox’s dedicated rugby league channel gave Nine’s rugby league with ads.

A bath.