BBC cov­er­age a hostage to the weather yet Cap­tain Tom raises spir­its

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport First Test - TV Re­view By Rob Bagchi Limbo

Jofra Archer cued the mu­sic, the tap of the cow­bell segued into fa­mil­iar, be­guil­ing Ham­mond or­gan and Soul her­alded Test cricket’s re­turn to the BBC af­ter 21 years.

The am­bi­tions of the pro­duc­ers of Today at the Test were sti­fled by a damp squib of a first day and they sen­si­bly took the de­ci­sion to cur­tail the hour-long slot to 45 min­utes, in­stead of over­in­flat­ing 82 min­utes of stop-start play be­yond its mer­its.

The hec­tic bursts of com­men­tary used to punc­tu­ate the theme tune were need­lessly in­tru­sive but, that apart, the cor­po­ra­tion made a sounder start than Dom Si­b­ley.

Invit­ing “Cap­tain Tom” to wel­come back cricket was a strik­ing suc­cess. Capt Sir Tom Moore, the cen­te­nar­ian who raised more than £30mil­lion for char­ity dur­ing the lock­down, has been a cricket lover all his life and in­tro­duced its come­back with a homily about the na­tion’s patience and his joy that “the time has come for our great game to take a long walk back to the crease and re­mind us what we missed”.

Af­ter the oblig­a­tory mon­tage, Isa Guha made a con­fi­dent start as host and the team made a virtue out of ne­ces­sity, but there was noth­ing about the play­ers tak­ing a knee to match the pow­er­ful and mov­ing con­tri­bu­tions about racism made by Ebony Rain­ford-Brent and Michael Hold­ing on Sky Sports dur­ing the live cov­er­age.

Michael Vaughan and Guha shared com­men­tary du­ties, with Carlos Brath­waite, Sir Alas­tair Cook and Phil Tufnell sum­maris­ing. The vol­ume of the ar­ti­fi­cial crowd noise was kept re­spectably low.

Given there was so lit­tle ac­tion, it was too early to get a flavour of their styles. Cook, only one sum­mer out of the dress­ing room, was sym­pa­thetic to Joe Denly’s strug­gles, ex­plain­ing his nuggety worth as a soft­ener of the new ball. He is per­fectly cast for the role of “cricket badger”, ex­plain­ing the me­chan­ics and psy­chol­ogy of bat­ting co­her­ently, but can­not hold back on crit­i­cism of his for­mer team-mates when it is de­manded.

The graph­ics were clear and un­ob­tru­sive, the Hawk-Eye track­ing dis­tinc­tive and easy to fol­low. With­out much cricket to show, the post­match anal­y­sis and in­ter­views un­der­stand­ably me­an­dered but, like the match it­self, it was a hostage to the weather. A full day will give both a fairer chance to shine.

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