BT Sport’s Ashes coverage in turmoil just 12 days before the first test on the Michael Vaughan furore as the plan to block his comment is undone by the former England captain’s contract with Australian rights holders Fox Sports .
BT Sport’s plans for its live coverage of Ashes have been called into question just 12 days before the first test in Brisbane, due to the furor surrounding Michael Vaughan.
As Sportsmail revealed on Thursday, BT insists they don’t want to use Vaughan following allegations that he used racist language towards Azeem Rafiq and three other Yorkshire players 12 years ago.
But the former England captain is still hired to comment on behalf of Australian rights holders Fox Sports, who have agreed to provide an audio signal to BT’s London studio.
BT Sport does not want to use Michael Vaughan (left) during the ashes after accusations that he used racist language towards Azeem Rafiq (right)
BT is hopeful that Fox will solve their problem by eliminating Vaughan, but they have started to explore other options and run into numerous difficulties.
Sportsmail learned that negotiations with the other Australian rights holders, Channel Seven, over taking over their feed have not progressed, while BT is also struggling to assemble a team of ex-players and broadcasters willing to work through the night on the Live commentary from London.
Experienced broadcaster Matt Smith has been hired to head BT’s coverage, with former England captain Sir Alastair Cook and fast bowler Steve Harmison providing expert analysis during lunch and tea breaks. But putting together a full team of commentators is proving much more challenging.
Michael Vaughan looked sullen when spotted at Alderley Edge, Cheshire on Wednesday. BT Sport has decided to remove his comment from their coverage of the upcoming series Ashes, while BBC Radio has left Vaughan out of his comment.
Sky Sports’ coverage of the UK tour of Sri Lanka last winter featured the likes of Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain and Rob Key commenting on television from London. But Channel Four took over the broadcast provided by host broadcaster Star Sports after winning the rights to the England tour of India later in the winter.
BT may not have that option due to the Vaughan issue, but it also lacks a permanent cricket staff to do the job remotely, so it is trying to recruit freelancers and former players. The timing of the delayed series hasn’t helped matters, with many people reluctant to work overnight in the run-up to Christmas and New Years, particularly with five Trials taking place in just seven weeks.
Vaughan has categorically denied saying ‘a lot of you, we have to do something about it’ to Rafiq ahead of a Twenty20 Cup match in 2009. He insisted this week that he was eager to travel to Australia to work for Fox after being rejected by the BBC.
Azeem Rafiq alleged that Vaughan made racist comments towards Asian players at Yorkshire CCC, claims the former England captain denies
“Very disappointed not to be commenting for TMS (Test Match Special) on the ashes and will miss working with great colleagues and friends but am looking forward to being behind the mic for @foxcricket in Australia,” Vaughan posted on Instagram.
“The problems cricket faces are more important than any individual case and I want to be part of the solution, listening, educating myself and helping to make it a more welcoming sport for everyone.”
l The ECB has suffered embarrassment as it prepares to announce a new 12-point diversity action plan today, with the sudden resignation of Leicestershire President Mehmooda Duke.
Vaughan took to Instagram after the announcement to say he was “ very disappointed ” that he was pulled from BBC coverage and said he was looking forward to working with Fox Sports.
The lawyer is the only president among the 18 first-class counties and one of only two people of color in those roles, and her departure is an ill-timed blow to the ECB in its quest to address the chronic lack of diversity in the sport.
Duke was due to resign next March, but opted to do so immediately and appeared to target ECB Chief Executive Tom Harrison in his resignation statement.
“Cricket has been shattered by recent events and I am deeply saddened by the pain people feel within our game,” she said.
“ With renewed leadership at the national level and with a determination to learn from the recent past, I hope that racism will be removed from the locker room, the fields and the game as a whole, allowing us to celebrate the diversity that makes cricket and the sport ” in this great country. ‘
England captain Joe Root pictured during a training session before the Ashes in Australia. The first test begins in Brisbane on December 8
Tim Paine, who has since been forced to step down as Australia’s captain, with the trophy in 2019 after they retained the Ashes in a series tied in England.