British cricket fans face India-England blackout as TV deal yet to be negotiated | England cricket team

Cricket fans are facing a possible blackout as England’s Test series against India is yet to be shown on British television, less than three weeks before the first ball is due to be bowled.

The five-match tour between the teams ranked second and third in the world is a key event in the Test calendar but no deal has yet been agreed for the opening game in Hyderabad, which starts on January 25. TalkSPORT holds the radio rights.

India remains by far the sport’s most lucrative market, but deals with the Indian cricket board often fall through and rights distribution partners are eager to recoup the significant initial outlay.

When England last toured the country for a Test series in 2021, a similar situation occurred and ended with an 11th-hour bid from Channel 4 as it made an unexpected re-entry into the market.

The terrestrial broadcaster’s interest last time was partly due to the fact that it catered to an enthusiastic audience interested in live sport following the coronavirus lockdowns. Given that resources have been poured into Channel 4’s Paralympics coverage this year, there is no interest in making a similar move on this occasion.

This leaves Sky Sports and TNT as possible distribution channels. Sky was the de facto home of all England tours between 1990 and 2017 and would be well placed to step in at short notice, while TNT gained a foothold in this area in its previous incarnation as BT Sport.

With matches starting at 4am and ending before midday, the slots are still far from prime time, but given England’s obvious attempts to boost the entertainment value and profile of the Test match under the leadership of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, it seems it is unimaginable that the England and Wales Cricket Board would make no attempt to assist in the discussions. PA Media has contacted the governing body for comment.

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England fly to the United Arab Emirates on Thursday to begin a team bonding and training camp.

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