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Channel 4 to screen World Cup final free-to-air after agreement reached with Sky

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The first appearance by the England men’s cricket team in a World Cup final since 1992 will be shown on free-to-air TV in the UK. Sky and Channel 4 announced an agreement to share live coverage following England’s victory over Australia at Edgbaston.

The subject of the World Cup’s visibility has been much discussed, with the tournament being broadcast behind a paywall in its host country. However, Sky had previously indicated it would be willing to share the feed if England beat Australia in their semi-final at Edgbaston.

Sunday’s final at Lord’s will also be broadcast free-to-air on Prime TV in New Zealand. Kane Williamson’s side shocked India in the first semi-final, which was concluded on Wednesday after rain forced the game into a reserve day.

Channel 4 has been showing highlights of the competition in the UK, and will now broadcast the final – while managing to also fit in coverage of the Formula One British Grand Prix. Cricket coverage will begin at 9am BST on Channel 4, move to More 4 at 1.15pm while the Grand Prix is on, and then return after the race is over.

England’s last appearance in the cricket World Cup final came in 1992, when they lost to Pakistan. They have never won the tournament but were one of the favourites this time around having risen to the No. 1 ODI ranking under Eoin Morgan’s captaincy.

“This is fantastic news for cricket fans and the nation,” Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon said. “This Sunday is a massive day for British sport with England tantalisingly close to lifting the Cricket World Cup for the first time and Lewis Hamilton setting his sights on his seventh season win at Silverstone – all live on Channel 4.

“The big winners of this strong partnership between Channel 4 and Sky are sports fans and viewers who want to come together for these big sporting occasions.”

Cricket has largely been absent from free-to-air TV in the UK since 2005, with some blaming the ECB’s decision to sell the rights to Sky for recent declines in participation.

“England in the Final on home soil is a huge moment for sport in this country and we are proud to be the host broadcaster,” Sky UK and Ireland Chief Executive Stephen van Rooyen said. “Thanks to our strong relationship with Channel 4, we are partnering to make the game available to everyone, so the whole country can get behind England, and be part of a special national sporting event.”

As well as showing the game on its sports channels, Sky will broadcast the World Cup final on Sky One.



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BCCI invites fresh applications for India team’s support staff

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The BCCI has called for applications for the entire roster of support staff for the India senior men’s cricket team, which ended its World Cup 2019 campaign with a semi-final defeat to New Zealand.

The contracts of the coaching staff, led by head coach Ravi Shastri, run up to the end of the World Cup. The BCCI subsequently extended the contracts by 45 days to include India’s tour of the West Indies, which starts on August 3 with the first of three T20Is. Three ODIs will follow the T20Is, with two Tests – part of the World Test Championship cycle – to come after the limited-overs matches.

The applications have been called for the positions of head coach, batting coach, bowling coach, fielding coach, physiotherapist, strength and conditioning coach, and administrative manager, with the deadline being 5pm on July 30.

The BCCI said that the current coaching staff of the team would get “automatic entry in the recruitment process”, but it’s unclear as yet if Shastri, Sanjay Bangar (assistant and batting coach), Bharat Arun (bowling coach), R Sridhar (fielding coach), and Sunil Subramaniam (team manager) are going to re-apply for their positions or not.

Physiotherapist Patrick Farhart and strength and conditioning coach Shankar Basu have both opted not to renew their contracts, and ended their association with the Indian team after the World Cup.

For the position of the head coach, who should be below 60 years of age, the BCCI wants the candidates who apply to have a BCCI Level 3 qualification. Failing that, the person should have played at least 30 Tests or 50 ODIs.

The support staff – with the exception of the team manager – have all had long stints with the team. While Shastri, Bangar, Arun and Sridhar all joined the team in mid-2014 for the limited-overs leg of the tour of England after a heavy loss in the Test series, Farhart and Basu had been part of the set-up since July 2015. Shastri, originally brought in as team director, was not part of the support staff for a year between mid-2016 to 2017, when Anil Kumble was in charge – and neither was Arun – but returned as head coach after that.

The BCCI’s elections are scheduled for October 22, which will also mean the exit of the Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators, and CoA chairman Vinod Rai had clarified earlier that until the elections were held, the body would continue to monitor and authorise cricketing operations, including matters related to the appointment or renewal of coaching staff.



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Recent Match Report – Derbyshire vs Northamptonshire, County Championship Division Two, 2nd Innings

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Derbyshire 146 (Hudson-Prentice 55, Sanderson 5-46) and 155 for 5 need a further 164 runs to beat Northamptonshire 342 and 122 (Palladino 4-33) by 308 runs

An astonishing day on which 24 wickets fell ended with Northamptonshire closing in on victory against Derbyshire at Chesterfield.

After Ben Sanderson took 5 for 46 to bowl Derbyshire out for 146 with Fynn Hudson-Prentice unbeaten on 55, Tony Palladino claimed 4 for 33 as Northants were shot out for 122. That left Derbyshire chasing 319 for victory but by the close, they were 155 for 5, still 164 runs short of the target.

A pitch offering spin and variable bounce was certainly demanding to bat on but lack of foot movement and poor shot selection accounted for the majority of the wickets.

The carnage began when Wayne Madsen played across the line to give Sanderson his first victim and the rest of the day became a procession as wickets tumbled to a rash of poor strokes. Tom Lace and Leus du Plooy paid the price for failing to get forward as Derbyshire slipped to 60 for 6 before Hudson-Prentice took 22 from a Rob Keogh over.

Matt Coles struck with his third delivery by trapping Matt Critchley on the crease but Hudson-Prentice reached 50 before Keogh wrapped up the innings giving Northants a lead of 196.

They chose not to enforce the follow-on but instead of an afternoon of accumulation, Northants moved into T20 mode and were bowled out in a chaotic session on a pitch which had clearly put doubts in the minds of the batsmen.

Ricardo Vasconcelos was run out attempting a second to deep square leg and after Luke Proctor offered no shot to Hudson-Prentice, Palladino profited from inadequate technique and ill-judged shots.

Keogh played across the line, Adam Rossington drove wildly at his first ball and although Temba Bavuma and Josh Cobb briefly threatened to restore order, more frantic shot selection sent the innings into terminal decline.

Cobb drove Critchley to long off and Bavuma fell victim to the mood of recklessness when he skied Palladino to point. Hamidullah Qadri beat Coles’s charge and less than 31 overs had been bowled when Saif Zaib holed out to leave Derbyshire facing the highest successful run chase at Queen’s Park.

They clearly decided to approach it in a positive way as Billy Godleman and Luis Reece came out swinging in the late afternoon sunshine. Godleman repeatedly charged the opening bowlers before he was stumped for 25 off Sanderson in the fifth over and Madsen lost his middle stump trying to work Coles through midwicket.

Reece was lbw playing back to Keogh and Luke Proctor struck twice in his first over to leave Northants favourites to wrap up victory on Tuesday.



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World Cup final viewing figures compete with 2005 Ashes after free-to-air return

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Sunday’s World Cup final, the first England international on free-to-air UK television since the 2005 Ashes, attracted a peak viewership of 8.3 million.

The game was simulcast on several channels: Sky showed it on Sky One, Main Event, and their Cricket channel, while Channel 4 split their coverage between their main channel and More 4 during the British Grand Prix.

The peak audience was only marginally below that recorded during the 2005 Ashes, when 8.4 million people watched the culmination of England’s win at Trent Bridge on Channel 4. By contrast, the first Test of the 2015 Ashes, shown only on Sky, attracted a peak viewership of 467,000.

The World Cup final had to compete for attention with the men’s singles final at Wimbledon between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, as well as the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Cricket will return to free-to-air TV in the UK from next summer, after the BBC agreed a deal in 2017 to show ten men’s and eight women’s matches from The Hundred per year, as well as two men’s T20Is and one women’s T20I.

Liam Plunkett, the fast bowler who took three wickets in England’s win, had previously voiced support for the final to be broadcast free-to-air.

“Playing for England, you’re the pride of the country and you want people to be able to access that and watch that,” he said after the group stage win against New Zealand. “I’m not sure it’s going to happen but for the guys, you want as many people to watch it as possible.”

Sunday’s final was a sell-out, with unofficial resale platforms offering tickets priced at several thousand pounds. As well as the millions watching on TV, thousands of fans gathered in the fanzone in Trafalgar Square, first to watch and then to celebrate England’s win.

There was widespread support for Sky’s decision to allow the game to be shown on free-to-air TV, a move that the ECB encouraged but did not demand. But Ashley Giles, the director of cricket for England’s men’s teams, suggested that England might not have been able to win the World Cup without Sky’s investment.

When asked by BBC Radio 4 if it would have been impossible, Giles said: “Quite possibly, yes. The investment in the game from grassroots to professional has allowed us to do what we’ve done.

“Sky took the game on and have been fantastic supporters since. Thank you to them for allowing it on Channel 4.”

Channel 4’s chief executive Alex Mahon said it was “wonderful that the whole nation can come together to share these momentous British sporting events”.



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