IT was a sporting spectacle of a lifetime the likes of which may never be seen again but as the positive spin from England’s victory in the Cricket World Cup continues to reverberate, experts in the game have been quick to point out that because the match was free to view the whole nation once again fell in love with the game of cricket.
Both satellite and terrestrial channels jointly screened the game thus making it more accessible to millions and the knock-on effect was youngsters heading to village greens with bat and ball.
Jeremy Wright, MP for Kenilworth and Southam was present at Lord’s for the final but this time in his capacity as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
As a cricket fan Mr Wright was able to tell the Herald what last Sunday’s victory meant to sport and indeed the nation.
“It was cricket at its absolute best. The atmosphere at Lord’s was terrific all day – the Barmy Army kept going, even when it started to get a bit tense and England were losing wickets. It was also great to see fans of other nations who had been knocked out enjoying the day – the Indian fans were particularly vocal and had added a lot to the tournament overall.”
Reference was frequently made in commentary that the formula for England’s success was four years in the making but it’s the legacy which is equally important, a point not lost on the culture secretary.
“I very much hope it will inspire the next generation. I’m sure the cricket authorities will grasp the opportunity and build on the momentum of this historic triumph. I joined a session at the Oval on Monday morning after their momentous victory where the ECB had arranged for 1,000 local school children to play with their new heroes. It was fantastic to see, and I have little doubt that across the country kids will be out playing street cricket during the school holidays to imitate their favourite England players,” Mr Wright said.
The likes of ex-England cricket favourite Phil Tufnell were quick to point out that sensational victory and the nation’s reaction to was because people could actually watch it for free.
MP Jeremy Wright agreed but advised that satellite television revenue did play its part in helping to promote sport through investment.
“I was really pleased that Sky Sports chose to put the final on free to view television so the whole country could share in this moment. People are understandably calling for more cricket to be on free to view channels, and its very good news that from next year
more than 100 hours of English international and domestic cricket will be shown on the BBC. I understand the calls for even more, but I am also mindful of the fact that sports need to maximise broadcast revenue to reinvest in their sports – from programmes in state schools up to support for England teams. We need to ensure the right balance is struck between visibility and investment,” Mr Wright said.
Local businessmen and Stratford resident Richard Hartley was also fortunate enough to witness the spectacular back and forth tussle that took place at Lord’s on Sunday.
“As an MCC member, I have been to Lord’s many times but none ended as dramatically as this. I was really fortunate to be there and witness this historic event. We really thought that in the closing overs of the England innings New Zealand had the upper hand and to need 15 runs off just 4 balls was an immense task. But Stokes with a wonderful 6 followed by another 6 runs due to good fortune was enough to bring the tie. Then the super over with the same number of runs scored.”
But Richard feels the game of cricket as a whole would have been better served if the trophy had been shared following such a nail biting finish.
“Does there have to be a winner in such a monumental game? I think not. But to rely on the higher number of boundaries to determine the winner is bizarre. I know it was in the rules. But the rules need to be changed. Personally I think that the trophy should be shared between the teams. Does there always need to be a winner? Once it was thought that it matters not who wins or losses, but how you played the game. Both teams were magnificent; the crowd was enthralled; cricket was the winner and I hope it inspires more to take up the game and for it to be shown to a bigger audience on terrestrial television,” Richard said.