Joe Root hopes that the return of test cricket to terrestrial television will capture the imagination of a new audience as the England captain prepares to win his 100th match with the promise that there are still many runs to come from his bat.
The four-match series against India that begins in Chennai on Friday will be the first test of cricket broadcast live on free-to-air television in the UK since England matches predominantly moved to Sky after the ashes of 2005, and Channel 4 confirmed it on Wednesday. had obtained the rights to Star Sports.
A combination of the national shutdown and a third day and night event in Ahmedabad starting at 9am UK time (the other three games start five hours earlier) brings with it the prospect of extraordinary audience figures for the sport, with a previous record of 8.7 million viewers when Sky shared the 2019 World Cup final with Channel 4.
“He’s brilliant for the game,” said Root, who follows teammates Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson to become the 15th cricketer to play 100 test matches for England. “We want to inspire one generation, the next generation.
“You look at the things that Sky does and the reach they get, they do a wonderful job and they provide great content for all viewers. [But] This is a great opportunity to reach a new audience, grow the game as we continue to speak, and make it more accessible to everyone else.
“So it’s a great thing for the sport and hopefully people will tune in and see us and have something to smile about at the end.”
Root, who made his debut in 2012 when England completed a historic 2-1 victory in India, spoke of his pride in reaching his personal milestone. Of the 14 players to hit three figures previously, a list that includes Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Graham Gooch, none did so with more than Root’s current tally of 8,249 runs.
The 30-year-old, whose team will wear black armbands to honor the late Captain Sir Tom Moore, said: “There are some fantastic players among them and many that I admire and admire for many years. It was also incredible to have shared a dressing room with several of them.
“I hope it’s not near the end. I still feel like I have a lot left at the moment and there is certainly a burning desire to keep playing for as long as I can.
“I look back on the last nine years and I’m in a very different place now than when I first came to the team, so who knows what the future holds. For now I’m very excited to play my best and give as much to the team as possible. “
This is a watershed year for the Root team, culminating in an attempt to reclaim the ashes of Australia. However, four Tests against India in India represent a much more difficult challenge, given the unknown conditions and the hosts’ record of having lost a test at home since their defeat to England just over eight years ago.
When asked if winning here would represent the greatest achievement of his career, Root replied: “As captain, I think it would be. When I joined the team in 2012, I played a very small role in that incredible series. I don’t think at that moment I appreciated how difficult it is to win in these conditions.
“To have the opportunity to play India at the cost of beating Australia in Australia, what a scalp that would be for us. There will be more pressure on them than on us, they have the expectation to maintain that record in their conditions.
“It’s a big one, we all know it because it’s a very difficult place to come and win. But that doesn’t scare us and it shouldn’t. We certainly have the tools to win these four games. It should be a lot of fun. “
The £ 5 million Channel 4 deal is for the test stage of the tour only, but talks are ongoing regarding the eight cue ball accessories that follow, and non-exclusive terms allow for a possible association with BT Sport or Sky. .
Both Channel 4 and Digital Channel All 4 will show the action live, with the latter highlights, and TalkSport operating as the official radio station.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism