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Channel 4 brings test cricket back to terrestrial TV for first time since 2005

By 3rd February 2021 2 Comments

England’s test series against India will be shown on the free-to-air broadcaster from Friday

Channel 4 will air England’s test series against India, bringing test cricket back to terrestrial TV for the first time since the 2005 Ashes.

Global rights holder Star Sports has signed a deal with Channel 4 for the four match series. Rishi Persad will present the programmes, with former England captains Alastair Cook (first and third tests) and Andrew Strauss (third and fourth tests) joining Persad in the studio. The broadcaster will be taking the world live feed commentary.

It is currently unconfirmed if the Twenty20 and ODI matches of the tour will also be shown on Channel 4.

Sky Sports and BT Sport have shown England games since the 2005 Ashes, raising the value of the rights but seeing the sport put behind a paywall.

Channel 4 last showed England play in the 2019 World Cup final, which saw a dramatic super over victory bring England the trophy for the first time.

Head of sport Pete Andrews and head of sports rights Penny Mills led the broadcaster’s negotiations to secure the India series deal.

Andrews said: “We’re delighted to be showing live Test cricket on Channel 4 again and given the recent performances of both sides this series is set to be a cracker. We’re thrilled to have struck this deal with Star Sports.”

Three of the four tests start at 4am, with the other a day/night test beginning at 9am, so the broadcaster will be hoping that the current lockdown will mean viewing figures are larger than they would be otherwise.

The first test begins on Friday in Chennai, with Joe Root’s team looking to build on a convincing series win in Sri Lanka earlier this year.

Channel 4’s chief content officer Ian Katz said: “This is fantastic news for all cricket fans in the UK. It’s been a long 16-year wait for the return of live Test cricket to free to air television but it couldn’t have come at a better time. What better antidote to the lockdown blues than an England Test series in sunny India.”