AUSTRALIAN cricket underwent its biggest media shake-up in 40 years on Friday as Fox Sports and the Seven Network took control of all home and domestic cricket for at least the next six summers.
But this change will likely see the end of the traditional Channel Nine commentary line up which includes Bill Lawry, Ian Chappell, Mark Taylor and Shane Warne, to name a few.
Fox Sports intends to launch its own dedicated cricket channel and has rights to virtually any top level game played in the country, while Seven will simulcast Tests and the majority of the Big Bash League.
Both Seven and Fox indicated on Friday that past players had reached out regarding potential future involvement with the two.
Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting, Damien Fleming and Mark Waugh could be looking to offer their services elsewhere after helping Network Ten turn the BBL into a force.
“It’s a little early to be talking about who the commentators are,” Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany said.
“All I know is our team will look young and inclusive. But there’s nothing wrong with a bit of grey hair in that.
“Never underestimate the power of wisdom.”
According to The Courier Mail, long time commentator Lawry is in high demand for the new look structure, with rumours that Fox Sports want the 81-year-old in a part-time role which includes the Melbourne Boxing Day Test match and one-dayers.
Over the weekend Lawry said it was too early to make a decision.
“I’ve got no comment to make at this stage.”
Delany fuelled this speculation, saying: “We’re not ruling out anyone, I’ve already had my three brothers on the phone about getting Bill on board. We’ve got grey hair all over the place.” He believes diversity is about including all races, sexes and ages.
While Fox pursues Lawry, Channel Seven has reportedly earmarked legend Shane Warne for a senior role on its end.
Interestingly, former captain Steve Smith’s name is also being tossed around as a potential commentator while he serves his 12 month suspension for the ball tampering scandal last month, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Fox Sports has had a long, successful affiliation with the 28-year-old and have been keeping a close eye on his well being, receiving regular updates from his agent Warren Craig.
“When it happened we all got together and said we’ve known Steve for a long time. He’s been on our books for many years and we should stand by him,” said Delany who wants Smith to play a lead role in the new look for the sport.
Smith has been laying low in New York with friends since the aftermath happened.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Smith may be part of a new-look contemporary broadcast team while also contributing to various other network projects while his suspension plays out.
Both networks will have their own respective commentators for simulcast matches and will provide their own graphics and final production.
The addition of Fox Sports as a digital media rights holder in partnership with the Cricket Australia network could also see more games from overseas streamed to viewers, as well as home limited-overs matches.
Fox Sports also promised to give Test cricket a new look — pointing to their own revamp of domestic T20 cricket last decade — after Nine’s coverage was heavily criticised in recent seasons.
“When we get involved in a sport like this deal allows us to do, we see it through the fans eyes and take it to another level,” Delany said. “We will get the best team together we can. We won’t rush out and do something next week. It won’t be all about the past. It’ll be about the future.”