Gentle opener is short on analysis, but easy on viewers
If you had waited 21 years for something, you would not necessarily want its success to be dependent on the Manchester weather. But the rain stayed away and the BBC had 4½ hours of live cricket on a Sunday afternoon on BBC One, something that can only be good for the sport.
It helped that the contest was close and high-scoring, and it did not do any harm that England came from behind to win well.
The coverage was hosted by Isa Guha and featured BBC Test Match Special regulars Michael Vaughan, Phil Tufnell, Alison Mitchell and stats man Andy Zaltzman, joined by Pakistan’s patrician Test opener Shan Masood and no less a personage than England’s highest Test wicket-taker, James Anderson.
Comedian Aatif Nawaz and former Pakistan bits-and-pieces allrounder Yasir Arafat were deployed in a curious roving role around the empty stands.
Some eagle-eyed internet sorts have noted that the BBC, actually, had shown some live men’s cricket more recently than the 1999 mentioned at the start of this: in 2006 for an Ireland versus England game on BBC Northern Ireland, but once you are splitting those sorts of hairs the point is surely reinforced that