The Cricket World Cup final between hosts England and New Zealand will be screened free-to-air on television in the United Kingdom, as a way to meet the demand to watch Sunday’s showdown. England beat defending champions Australia, while New Zealand scraped past India in the semifinals.
After 27 years, England once again have a chance to rise to the helm of the world of cricket. In the 1992 final, Pakistan beat them to the title. In 2019, the Kiwis stand in their way. England, playing on home soil, are the obvious favorites. With both the 2011 and 2015 edition being won by the respective hosts, recent history also sides with the land of the Queen.
But the sport has not garnered as much attention in its birthplace as football or even Formula 1 has. Many pundits claim the decision by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to take the game off free to air television has been a central factor in the sport's declining popularity in its birthplace, particularly among younger age groups, reports TOI.
However, English teams have, for decades, failed to deliver on promising campaigns in team sports, be it football or cricket. So, now that England have finally managed a place in the final, the demand is expected to be higher. As a result, Channel 4 has struck a deal with Sky Sports, which holds the UK rights for the World Cup, to also show the final. Channel 4, one of the UK's non-subscription broadcasters, will combine the World Cup final with its live coverage of the Formula 1 British Grand Prix.
"This is fantastic news for cricket fans and the nation. This Sunday is a massive day for British sport with England tantalisingly close to lifting the Cricket World Cup for the first time and Lewis Hamilton setting his sights on his seventh win at Silverstone," Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon told AFP.
Many feel that this could recreate the inspiring scenes that the Ashes 2005 did, and make inroads for cricket back into the hearts of Englishmen in a more prominent fashion.
"That's very cool. Particularly given the 2005 Ashes for me was sort of the day cricket became cool. It's really good for the game and it's the game I love," said England captain Eoin Morgan, welcoming the decision.
Channel 4 will carry Sky's coverage of the cricket from 9am local time, but the game will move to More 4 at 1.15pm as Formula 1 takes over before returning after the race. If England win, it will be their first ICC Trophy in 50-over cricket, having finished runners up thrice in World Cups, and twice in the Champions Trophy.
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