World Cup Match Number 43 – Pakistan v Bangladesh (Not Free To Air)

We are nearly there. The first phase is coming to an end. There are six matches left. And breathe.

The end of the league stage is nigh, and in theory all three games have something riding on them. Yet even the most diehard of fans has to struggle with the remnants of this phase. On Saturday we decide who the semi-final match ups are, with Australia playing South Africa and India playing Sri Lanka and the combination of results supposedly matters. If Australia win, they play New Zealand; if they lose and India win, Australia play England. Be still your beating hearts, but the theory out there is that England would rather play the team they beat at Edgbaston than the one they lost to at Lord’s.

Tomorrow (today if you read this on Friday) will see a theoretical chance for Pakistan to qualify. To do so they must not bowl first, and if they bat, they have to win by over 310 runs (and more the higher score they get). It’s not going to happen. Any supposed excitement is possibly over at the toss. It might be true Pakistan to win and stick Bangladesh in. Imagine. Just imagine.

There are historical connotations with this match, of course. Having visited Bangladesh a couple of years ago (in an aside, I met with the owner of the Dhaka Dynamites this week), I know they are captivated by the sport. Having had political briefings on the market, I know that a lot of their politics are framed by their partition from Pakistan. So I suppose this might matter a little bit. In cricketing terms they are near neighbours in the table. Bangladesh are hopefully here to stay.

Their long run of futility in the international game has seen two World Cups where they’ve taken new scalps, and to defeat Pakistan would be a big deal. They have given really decent shows of themselves in the matches they have lost, have shown they have top quality one day players, and will never be taken for granted in this competition, the 50 over format, again. They get their chance to play an ODI at Lord’s and I hope they play really well. Pakistan will also want to show that at their best they are up there with the rest, but once the toss is over, and if Bangladesh bat, I hope we still see a decent game. The so-called dead rubbers have not been too bad so far. I don’t think the competition has been that bad either. But there are other views available.

So as there is little real tension in the weekend fixtures, the focus is once again on the FTA v Paywall debate. Sky have said they will not be sharing the live coverage with free to air TV, but there are thoughts that the Final will be on Sky One, or one of their other non-sport mainstream channels. The final is on 14 July, which in case anyone hasn’t noticed, is the same day as the Wimbledon Men’s Singles Final (BBC free to air) and the British Grand Prix (Channel 4 free to air). If you don’t fancy that free to air coverage of sport, there is also the Tour de France live on ITV 4 if you are struggling for something to watch. Who is supposed to carry these free to air event? Why would the old major channels want to go up against their long contractually engaged events (and in the case of Wimbledon, BBC’s crown jewel) for a sport that turned its back on them years ago. The question really is will Sky put it on a channel everyone can watch, and share it as widely on their own platforms, and can they attract anyone who might be busy watching something else.

But this didn’t stop Liam Plunkett being, it appeared, forced to issue a hurried retraction to some comments which, on the face of it, seemed innocent enough. I’m taking Lawrence Booth’s copy of the comments made to Radio Five as the evidence.

‘It would obviously be great to have as many people watching as possible – we feel like we’ve built something special here as a team. It would be nice to go all the way and to have big numbers watching that final if we get through and win.’

Asked whether he would like Sky to put the final on free to air, he said: ‘I’m not sure they’re going to do it but it would great for everybody to be able to watch that.

‘Playing for England, you’re the pride of the country and you want people to be able to access that and watch that.

It is hardly gob-smackingly out of line, is it? He wants the maximum exposure for a once in a quarter century experience (potentially of course, England have a semi to play), so that the nation can at least have the chance of watching the team play in a final. It’s not massively controversial. But, in something that speaks volumes of the culture in English sport these days, one dare not say a single word PERCEIVED to be against the narrative, and Liam had to take to Twitter to clarify….

The tweet’s content is not the problem here. It’s what happened behind the scenes. Praise the broadcaster who supposedly pays their wages (never forget, it’s your subs and advertising revenue that pays it, and Sky take the difference between cost and income), and make sure they are paid homage to. If Sky asked them to do this, more shame on their thin skins. I imagine it was more the ECB and their press team who are so terrified of the perception of offending one of their strategic partners, they wanted to make sure that there was a “clarification”. Interesting how they react to their TV partner in a heartbeat, but ignore domestic grass roots fans when it comes to upsetting them, tangibly, over the future of domestic cricket. You can eat platitudes. Sky have grovelling homilies.

Liam is a millimetre from “I was taken out of context” but his words, if as reported by the widely respected editor of Wisden, who is hardly some keen intern, are correct, what’s he got to be worried about? He’d love the audience to perform in front of. He would like to see the bandwagon, however remote, be created. He wants the country to be behind them in larger numbers, if possible.

But someone is so scared of Sky, that Plunkett has to put out this Tweet. The headline may draw a conclusion that is the logical extension of his thoughts, but those aren’t bad things to say. You have an England hierarchy more scared of their TV paymaster than they are the future inspiration a win could bring. I can’t say I’m surprised. I may be drawing conclusions, but they are obvious. Far worse to upset a TV company than it is your fans. File another success for the ECB custodians. A hundred cheers all round.

Anyway. To Lord’s. I hope it’s a good game. On Sunday I enter my 6th decade, and tomorrow I’ll be leaving the 5th with a good old do, so I hope to see you all sometime later in the weekend. I am on a break from work from then on, so hopefully will be live blogging the semis and the final (I have Sky). Until then, comment on the match tomorrow, and see you soon, my strategic partners!

Comments below.


34 thoughts on “World Cup Match Number 43 – Pakistan v Bangladesh (Not Free To Air)

  1. Rooto Jul 4, 2019 / 8:43 pm

    That Plunkett tweet is genuinely scary. I really hope some backroom twerp composed it, rather than a fully-functioning adult.

    (By the way, a small housekeeping point: we had two match 41s earlier this week. I think we’re now up to 43!)

    Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus Jul 4, 2019 / 9:02 pm

      We are, Rooto. Thanks for the heads up, and the title is now changed!


    • Mark Jul 4, 2019 / 9:31 pm

      Shocking, absolutely shocking…..Look at the first line in his tweet.

      “@SkyCricket are an incredible partner for the game and have been for the past 20+ years.”

      It’s more like one of those hostage videos that captured soldiers are made to read out…….. “ I’m being treated wonderfully well by my delightful hosts who greatly respect the Geneva convention.”

      Apart from the fact that once again we have the buzz word “partner” inserted only six words in, it just comes across as yet another PR disaster for the ECB. The stable of players are now treated like naughty children who can’t give an honest answer to a question.

      There is nothing wrong with what he originally said. Perfectly diplomatic, and well answered. But that is not enough for the ghastly spivs who have highjacked our game from us and flogged it off to a tv company for large dollops of cash that they then use to pay themselves big salaries.

      I would refuse to answer anymore media questions including from Sky as Players are obviously not adult enough or trusted to talk openly about pretty much anything.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. man in a barrel Jul 4, 2019 / 8:46 pm

    Just to say that I was more involved by the West Indies v Afg match than in any of the others I have dipped in and out of, despite the fact that it was not meaningful in terms of the competition, and that it was just for pride. There was drama. There was the thrill of Gayle on show for maybe the last time and playing a canny hand, when not batting… His bowling was tight and astute, shutting down the shots the batsmen wanted to play, he took a good catch and he engineered a crucial run out.

    Ikram is a class act for an 18 year old…. Memories of Ramprakash in the Nat West.

    Nabi looked like one of the best slow bowlers around, probably equal to Lyon and Ashwin. He reminded me of Fred Titmus.

    Why don’t we see more of them, say in a 3 side variant of the interminable one day series?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. glenn Jul 4, 2019 / 9:06 pm

    Sky could put it on Pick Tv – like they did for the Ashes highlights a few years ago Or it could be on C5, or Dave or Quest. But Sky will want to keep it to get subs.


  4. man in a barrel Jul 4, 2019 / 9:31 pm

    From an economics blog :

    If we look at it in terms of the likely semi-finalists in the cricket world cup we see that there have been India (3), Australia (2) and New Zealand (1) interest-rate cuts so far this year. So England has missed out, well sort of.

    There could be a rate cut… We know that Carney hates to miss a bandwaggon


  5. Mark Jul 4, 2019 / 9:55 pm

    In other news…. the 16.4 is going well….

    “Lancs Action Group
    Retweet if you have no intention of watching this disgrace of a tournament that the @ECB_crickethave already downgraded 1 comp next year for & threatens the very fabric of County Cricket. We intend to be part of a national campaign against franchise cricket #notofranchisecricket”

    I’m happy to confirm I will not be watching or paying for this crap at any inner city franchise event. I’m not the right demographic. The governing body told me I’m not the people they are trying to attract. I can happily promise to spend my money on other things,

    Liked by 1 person

  6. dArthez Jul 5, 2019 / 9:16 am

    He forgot to thank Sky and its money for neutering several opponents.


  7. Glenn Jul 5, 2019 / 10:52 am

    Sky have announced that the final will be on free to air tv if England get to the final.


    • Mark Jul 5, 2019 / 11:04 am

      I wonder if that was in exchange for a retraction by Plunkett?

      You know, broadcaster and governing body work as “partners.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Jul 5, 2019 / 11:42 am

        Sky Chief Executive Stephen van Rooyen said: “We are proud to be the broadcaster for a home Cricket World Cup – one of the world’s biggest and most exciting sporting events.

        “Our aim has always been to celebrate what could be a ‘once in a generation’ moment of a home team in a big final on home soil. So, if England reach the final, we will make the match available to everyone so the whole country can be part of a rare and special big sporting moment.”

        What does he mean…..”once in a generation moment of a home team in a big final on home soil?”

        Wasn’t the 2015 World Cup final played at Melbourne cricket ground and featured Australia? Or

        The 2011 World Cup final played at Mumbai between India and Sri Lanka?

        Last two World Cup finals have both featured the home team. Hardly a once in a generation moment.


        • LordCanisLupus Jul 5, 2019 / 11:52 am

          A little bit nit-picky there, Mark, but I get your point. I mean it’s been what, 2 years since the last home team played a home world cup final, over 50 overs at Lord’s. Is he talking about generations of flying ants?

          I work in the contract game, so of course, am totally cynical about headline statements without looking at the small print. What do they mean free-to-air? I have grave doubts BBC would put their crown jewel, the men’s final at Wimbledon in competition with a World Cup, and C4 have one Grand Prix all year, and that’s on the 14th. ITV4 are currently scheduled to show the 9th stage of the Tour de France, so I’d guess that’s a non-starter. I can’t see Sky allowing a rival broadcaster to have this for nothing, which means they’ll open it up free somewhere – possibly Sky Pick or Sky One – which might have been their plan anyway to maximise audience (given the competition). My suspicions are even more aroused when I see Tom Harrison supposedly “brokered” this deal, and then went into paroxysms of fawning more akin to Pyongyang than the Pavilion at Lord’s (actually that doesn’t work – there’s something more than sinister about the citadel).

          Let’s see what they have in mind after England lose the semi-final to whoever they play. Oooops. I’ve gone and ruined it all.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Mark Jul 5, 2019 / 12:23 pm

            I guess my point is…..

            if he means …..“England”…. then why doesn’t he say England? Instead he says……”once in a generation moment of a home team in a big final on home soil?”

            “A home team on home soil” which is just like the last two World Cup finals. If he had said England have not been in final or a final on home soil for decades then you can make that it into a generation event. But he used the term “a team in a big final at home.”

            That is just not a generational event. I think he is spinning like crazy to hide a u turn.They will never admit they changed their position because of criticism.

            Anyway, if England lose the semi final it will be irrelevant, so let’s see.


          • thelegglance Jul 5, 2019 / 12:45 pm

            A bit of me is hoping they put it on Youtube, because I rather suspect if they did, the viewing numbers wouldn’t be that great. Not that I would be pleased by that, but because it would be an interesting exercise in seeing how it works for those who talk about kidz consuming sport via social media rather than television.

            Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus Jul 5, 2019 / 12:05 pm

      Someone put on Twitter yesterday that they get all Sky services for £30 a month (except for the movie channels). Well I don’t have movies, and my bill is significantly north of that even if you do count off my broadband and phone. Am I doing something wrong.

      And £30 a month is still a decent sum of money in this era. Some other wag said they are prepared to pay £10 for a latte at Starbucks. I suggest that individual shops around!


      • nonoxcol Jul 5, 2019 / 12:07 pm

        Mine was £46 before I cancelled (2014), and that was whatever I needed at absolute minimum + sport.


      • thelegglance Jul 5, 2019 / 12:42 pm

        I saw someone say that Sky wasn’t particularly expensive. I would suggest that for an awful lot of people £600 a year and more for television is rather a lot of money and someone suggesting it isn’t needs to understand the financial realities of most people.

        Liked by 4 people

        • nonoxcol Jul 5, 2019 / 12:55 pm

          We get a *lot* of that BTL at the oh-so-right-on Guardian and always have had, funnily enough.

          Liked by 1 person

          • thelegglance Jul 5, 2019 / 12:58 pm

            Life is tough for the north London middle classes.


          • LordCanisLupus Jul 5, 2019 / 1:02 pm

            Are there people out there who pay their subscriptions and then go “oh my god, they are giving the big game away for free, how dare they?”

            Don’t answer that. Because I know there are. The world we live in.


          • thelegglance Jul 5, 2019 / 1:04 pm

            Even within the replies to Sky’s tweet about putting it out as FTA.

            Liked by 1 person

          • LordCanisLupus Jul 5, 2019 / 1:15 pm

            I came across one (the one about £30 a month) that basically told people who really wanted to watch cricket to give up a night out, or a takeaway for it if they really wanted it.

            So far away from reality, I just don’t know. You aren’t paying to be in an exclusive club, that if it gets any more exclusive, will mean cricket gets even more remote from the populace. Madness.

            Also, Sky aren’t paying. We are! Through subs and the extra charges on goods and services to cover advertising costs. They make Sky sound like a bloody charity!


          • thelegglance Jul 5, 2019 / 1:21 pm

            The patronising nature of these people is what winds me up more than anything else. I can’t abide them.


          • nonoxcol Jul 5, 2019 / 1:31 pm

            Speaking for myself, I was out of work when I cancelled. I’d actually clung on to Sky having made a lot of these other sacrifices already thanks very much Mr Patronising BTLer. But the ECB and my finances eventually made it untenable, and the ECB (not, thankfully, my finances) have stopped me ever going back.

            Liked by 1 person

          • thelegglance Jul 5, 2019 / 1:44 pm

            You’ve nailed a major reason for my fury. Not your answer, but that these people expect others to explain and justify. Fuck off. Fuck right off and then come back just to fuck off again. People do not need to justify their decisions to smug, self-satisfied wankers who have no empathy or ability to see beyond their own comfortable existence.

            And they can fuck off once more for good measure.

            Liked by 3 people

          • LordCanisLupus Jul 5, 2019 / 2:11 pm

            How about this. You can pay £30 a month and watch endless repeats of Masterclass, Legends of Cricket, or in case you missed it, the T20 Final from a few years ago, or £11 (I pay via US) for Netflix which has enormous amounts of content, and is updated all the time. There’s your choice for the discerning new customer, oh BTLer and Considerably Richer Than Yow (Harry Enfield references for the yoof out there) Tweeters.

            I’m lucky, I can afford both. I am thankful that I am in that position, not insulting of those who can’t make ends meet.


          • Mark Jul 5, 2019 / 2:31 pm

            The number of those who can afford Sky, and who sneer down on those that can’t afford it, threw their toys out of the pram when they couldn’t watch the Ashes on BT.

            It’s interesting how they love Sky (because they can afford it) but whine like fuck about any other pay broadcaster. Some of them whinge that they can’t see Champions league football and demand it be put back on Sky. Funnily enough making the same arguments about lack of viewers.

            It seems the Guardian North London lovies are very much of the..” I’m all right jack, I’ve got mine” mentality. I thought they were all the caring, sharing folks?

            Still can’t get over how Selvey, a man who had the best seat in the house with the BBC (for free) sat their snuggly for the best part of 25 years, and who in addition went to any number of major sports events as a journalist with the Guardian has a bee in his bonnet about people not paying to see live sport.


        • Northern Light Jul 5, 2019 / 1:48 pm

          I like cricket. Less than I used to, but nonetheless enough to want to watch it on TV. I have two jobs that between them earn me around £1000 a month after tax. My rent is £850.(Central Edinburgh, becoming more like London every year!)
          That’s the reality for a lot of people in Britain right now. And I feel comparatively lucky – from August I’ll change to more hours and a permanent contract and earn about another £300 net – so my wages will just about cover essential expenses if I’m careful with what I eat. And ditch the car.
          Sky subscription? Way down the list of optional extras, even if I wasn’t pathologically anti everything that News Corp and their subsidiaries touch.
          But yes, try that BTL at the Guardian and you’ll get disbelief and mockery. Heaven only knows what the ECB and their lackeys think about the likes of me, but I’d guess it wouldn’t be that complimentary.

          Liked by 3 people

        • nonoxcol Jul 5, 2019 / 2:42 pm

          Well you know where my full length username came from, don’t you? Not inverse snobbery: I could bore you all to tears with a list of Oxbridge graduates in all fields whom I admire. I suspect that, in the case of most of those I don’t, it has very little to do with Oxbridge itself.

          No: it came from the homeogeneity of views and attitudes you tend to find when you hire virtually all of your columnists from that pool.

          Liked by 1 person

          • thelegglance Jul 5, 2019 / 2:50 pm

            Indeed. That’s the problem with the groupthink – it’s not that they don’t agree with alternative views, it’s that they can’t comprehend the possibility that there are alternative views.

            Liked by 2 people

  8. Mark. Jul 5, 2019 / 3:14 pm

    From Sky’s terms and conditions ….

    “Sky Sports channels available in 1, 2 or 3 channels or get all channels with the Complete Sports Pack. From £18 – £30 extra per month.”

    The key word is “extra.” That is on top of your base package.One of the problems with Sky is there are a mirriad of different packages and tariffs depending what you sign up to. Broadband, and TV, mobile packages etc etc.

    On top of that People who threaten to leave at the end of their contract often get offered a lower price as long as they re sign for 12 or 18 months term. This all makes it very difficult to know what exactly is the price of watching sport on Sky? How long is a piece of string?


  9. Mark Jul 5, 2019 / 4:12 pm

    It’s being reported that Warwickshire have offered over £100 thousand pounds contract to an England International player to sign for them next season which will include a guaranteed 16.4 contract with Birmingham Phoenix.

    This is a bit of a problem as the franchised teams are supposed to be brand new outfits, and nothing to do with the old counties. Once again all the promises come to nothing.

    Those that said this was dirty little power grab by the big test match venue counties look like they had a point.

    Didnt Warwickshire re name themselves as Birmingham a few years ago for one day cricket? I can’t imagine why they did that!


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