SABC's relegation of cricket smacks of sheer ignorance
IT'S clear that the SABC doesn't think much of Test cricket or of the South African team.
Yesterday, it relegated an upcoming series in which the world No 1 team will play New Zealand to mere highlights packages on national television.
The deal, signed yesterday by the corporation and Cricket SA after much haggling, allows for live TV coverage of only the three one-day internationals and the three Twenty20 matches, the first of which will be played in Durban tomorrow night.
Had such a deal been struck in, say, Australia the outcry would have been so damning that Julia Gillard's government would have been in danger of falling.
Not here, however. The apathy on the part of the SABC towards Test cricket will be accepted with a shrug but thousands of people will be affected. Last summer, when the Australians were touring, an average of just over a million viewers watched the Test matches. By contrast, an average of 156000 watched the games on pay channel Supersport.
Admittedly, the Black Caps are not the drawcards that the Baggy Greens are but many viewers who can watch Test cricket only on SABC TV will be deprived of this chance from January 2 to 15.
Cricket SA's negotiations with the penny-pinching SABC must have been awkward. On the one hand, the national body is eager to spread the game around the country in its mission to make it more representative. At the same time, it cannot just give away its rights.
In the end, Cricket SA had to settle for much less than the R30-million price tag put on it. The Times understands that it made a R12-million loss in the end. The final figure is said to be 25% of what Cricket SA gets when it sells its overseas Test rights.
It is a mystery why the SABC is so dismissive of Test cricket but it could be plain ignorance.
Yesterday, the corporation referred to South Africa's ODI and T20 teams as No1 in the world. Sadly, that is just not correct.