It’s just not cricket
WHAT’S happened to cricket?
For many years now, early November has marked the beginning of a cricket season.
It offered the promise of lazy days in front of the game, the fun of watching new players coming through the ranks and endless conversations with friends, family and shopkeepers.
Cricket and summer go hand in hand. Not anymore.
For the first summer in 40 years, I can’t sit down to watch the one day internationals on free-to-air television.
This may not seem like a big deal to non-cricket watchers, but it matters.
It matters because cricket is part of our national language.
It’s a vehicle that allows parents to connect with kids and support them in their play and in learning good sportsmanship. It’s fun. About 7.7 million Australians have Foxtel in their homes, but 17.3 million of us don’t. This leaves us in the dark when it
comes to the one day internationals and the tea room chats they inspire.
I predict that cricket will drop out of the national conversation. We’ll resort to talking about the weather, politics and what’s new on Netflix.
Cricket Australia has done us wrong in selling the screening rights to a paid TV service. Sure, we’ll get some of the men’s Big Bash on free to air, but not the whole season. We’ll lose continuity. It used to be fun to watch a new player develop.
They had good games and bad games. Families would have dinner in front of the game. It was easy family friendly entertainment that you could count on each night.
Both Foxtel and Channel 7 will
show 23 of the women’s Big Bash games. The popular men’s T20 Internationals have been sucked up by Foxtel. We still have the Test matches on free to air.
But, if you think we haven’t lost too much yet, beware. In a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald Foxtel said they wanted to get more of the cricket in the future.
I call this cultural theft. Cricket did not belong to Cricket Australia. It was not theirs to sell. It belonged to the kid who first put a watermelon on his hot little head while sitting in a boiling stadium.
It belonged to the mad Pommies who travel to our shores and support their team with their Mexican waves and beer-inspired singing. Cricket was ours.
We the people made it work. But Cricket Australia has treated it like a product and put it up for sale. In doing so, they have sold us out. And now they want to win us back? Good luck with that. MARY BARBER Aroona