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Gilly to be face of cricket on pay TV

Popular Aussie star signs up with Fox Sports to lead coverage in cricket's new broadcast era

Dave Middleton

28 April 2018, 09:01 AM AEST

Adam Gilchrist will anchor Fox Sports' cricket coverage after the legendary Australian wicketkeeper turned popular commentator signed on with the pay-television broadcaster.

Gilchrist forged a reputation as an astute commentator on Network Ten's ground-breaking coverage of the KFC Big Bash League, and becomes the first major commentary signing following the recent broadcast rights shake-up of Australian cricket.

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Seven West Media and Fox Sports signed a $1.182 billion deal to jointly broadcast international and domestic cricket in Australia for the next six years. That ended a four-decade association between cricket and the Nine Network, while Network Ten had broadcast the Big Bash League for the past five years.

Seven will broadcast Australian Test cricket and 43 of 59 BBL games – including the finals series – as well as all Australian women's internationals and 23 WBBL matches from this summer.

Fox Sports will simulcast all that on its subscription service, with its own commentary team that Gilchrist will lead. The pay-tv service will also broadcast Australia's ODI and T20 international matches, an extra 16 BBL matches scattered throughout the regular season, as well as the Sheffield Shield final, select domestic one-day matches and some tour matches.

The Cricket Network – through cricket.com.au and the CA Live app – will provide broadcast-quality live streaming coverage of every Sheffield Shield match, and the remaining WBBL and JLT One-Day Cup matches not covered by Fox.

Gilchrist will fill a Richie Benaud-type role for Fox as the face of the cable network's cricket coverage across all three formats.

"Sport has been a major part of my life, as a player and now a commentator, so to join a network that is 100 per cent focused on sport is something I am extremely excited about," Gilchrist said in a press release.

"Fox Sports' new partnership with cricket has seen a big commitment to the game — a game that I clearly love — and I can't wait to be part of the family.

"It's a changed landscape for cricket coverage in this country, where viewers have more choice and more variety than ever – and this will be great for the game."

Gilchrist joins former Australia captain Allan Border and Brendon Julian in the Fox commentary stable, who have both been long-time members of the broadcaster's coverage of Australia's international tours, and will commentate on all three formats of cricket.

"Gilly is one of the most loved cricketers of all time,'' Fox Sports chief executive Patrick Delany said in a press release.

"He will lead the Fox Cricket coverage working across all three forms of the game.

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"Fans love his opinion and analysis, the way he combines pure class and humour. In the same way he set a new standard for what a wicketkeeper-batsman did in today's game, Gilly will be the perfect person to front the most innovative cricket coverage on TV."

Channel Seven has yet to announce any commentators but the network has announced its first big-name signing as the free-to-air broadcaster of cricket in Australia with David Barham, the man who oversaw the hugely popular coverage of the men's and women's Big Bash Leagues in recent years, named the network's new head of cricket.

Barham had been in charge of Network Ten's sports coverage since 2011 during which time the broadcaster drove record prime-time ratings growth for the KFC BBL and Rebel WBBL.

Under his stewardship, ratings for BBL matches routinely rose to more than one million viewers per match and the coverage, hosted by former Test greats Ricky Ponting and Gilchrist, unashamedly took a lighter, more family-friendly approach.

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"Cricket has been a huge part of my life over the past five years, so I'm thrilled to be joining Seven, the new free-to-air home of cricket," Barham said in a statement issued by Seven West Media.

"In my conversations with Tim (Worner, Seven West Media Chief Executive), it's very clear he and his team are 100 per cent committed to producing even bigger and better BBL coverage and completely re-energising the Tests, so I can't wait to get stuck in."

Fox Sports will broadcast Australia's ODI and T20 matches in the UK in June, and a yet-to-be-confirmed Test and ODI series against Pakistan in the UAE in October. No announcement has been made yet about Australia's T20 tri-series with Zimbabwe and Pakistan in Harare in July.