Talksport to use skeleton staff in India with coverage mainly from London

Talksport to use skeleton staff in India with coverage mainly from London
Talksport to use skeleton staff in India with coverage mainly from London

Talksport will broadcast the next leg of England’s tour of India primarily from London with a significantly reduced team on location in Rajkot and Ranchi.

Talksport pipped the BBC’s Test Match Special to the UK radio rights for the tour, which is one of Test cricket’s flagship contests.

The broadcaster has sent a team of four to India for the series, including former England fast bowler Steve Harmison and South African commentator Neil Manthorp. In addition, they have used Kevin Pietersen, who is in India with the host television broadcaster, and also incorporated local voices in the revered Indian caller Harsha Bhogle and journalist Chetan Narula.

Back in London, broadcaster Jarrod Kimber and former England quick Darren Gough are also part of the call. Both had hoped to travel to India for the first two Tests but were unable to for logistical reasons. Former Ireland bowler Cath Dalton will be part of the team from London for Friday’s second Test, too.

For the third and fourth Tests, though, only Bhogle and Narula remain on the ground in India, alongside freelance reporter Cameron Ponsonby. The remainder of the broadcast will be done from London, with the likes of Harmison called home. Arrangements for the fifth Test in Dharamshala are yet to be finalised.

Talksport said the decision was commercially motivated. The broadcaster has picked up rights for England men’s tours of Sri Lanka, West Indies, South Africa and New Zealand in recent years.

While listening figures for the first Test are understood to have been outstanding, the cost of sending a full team on tour is high, on top of the cost of buying the rights in the first place.

A spokesperson for Talksport said: “We are fully committed to cricket having covered tours every winter for six years and recently launching a Talksport cricket YouTube channel. As a commercial station that broadcasts 2,000 hours of live sport per year we have to work within financial parameters to maximise our coverage, which is why we have prioritised the opening two Tests.”

That means neither television nor radio broadcaster for the UK market will have sent a team for the third and fourth Tests. TNT Sports has the television rights. For the second Test, it is taking the host broadcaster’s feed, with Sir Alastair Cook and Steven Finn involved in coverage from a studio in Sweden, and Eoin Morgan chipping in from India.

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