The World Cup final will be available to watch on free-to-air television if England make the showpiece, Sky Sports has announced.
The broadcaster said on Friday that if England reach the July 14 final at Lord’s – they are in semi-final action next week – it will “ensure as wide an audience as possible is able to watch the game”.
International cricket has been behind Sky’s subscription paywall since 2005, and calls have been increasing for at least some of it to return to free-to-air television.
Sky UK and Ireland chief executive Stephen Van Rooyen said: “We are proud to be the broadcaster for a home Cricket World Cup – one of the world’s biggest and most exciting sporting events.
“Our aim has always been to celebrate what could be a ‘once in a generation’ moment of a home team in a big final on home soil.
“So, if England reach the final, we will make the match available to everyone so the whole country can be part of a rare and special big sporting moment.”
It has not yet been revealed which free-to-air channel a final featuring England would be made available via.
England seamer Liam Plunkett suggested on Thursday that the team were keen to attract the biggest audience they could.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “You want as many people to watch it as possible. Playing for England you’re the pride of the country and you want people to be able to access that and watch that.
“It’s always nice to be on a bigger platform. We feel like we’ve built something special here as a team.
“It would be nice to go all the way and to have big numbers watching that final if we get through and win, that would be huge.”
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The last game of Sri Lanka’s World Cup campaign started on a disastrous note with the 1996 champions reeling at 55-4 after just over 11 overs against India in Headingley on Saturday.
It was then that Angelo Mathews decided to step up and produce his team’s best batting performance of the tournament. The all-rounder steadied the ship and helped the Lankans post a respectable total of 264-7 in their quota of 50 overs.
Here we take a closer look at his performance.
Balls faced: 128
Sri Lanka endured a rather disappointing World Cup, with their only memorable moment arriving in a thrilling win over hosts England. They would have preferred to have started strong against neighbours India but Jasprit Bumrah had other ideas and he removed the openers early on.
Matthews played the role of a sheet anchor and took his team to safety through a well-paced ton. He thus became only the second Sri Lankan player to score a ton in this World Cup after Avishka Fernando.
The 34-year-old went after Bhuvneshwar Kumar and ensured his team got to a competitive total, as he recorded the highest score by a Sri Lankan player in this World Cup.
Good shot selection is a key ingredient in any innings and Mathews had his spot on. His timing and placement were impeccable as well on a slowing surface.
His used the pull shot judiciously, negating the slow short balls by Indian quicks. The 34-year-old was accumulating runs all around the ground and ensured Sri Lanka avoided a batting collapse.
No major negatives. But he did get out to a softly dismissal. Matthew timed Bumrah’s full length ball well but failed to place it perfectly. The ball found Rohit Sharma at extra-cover and the opening batsman had to barely move an inch to send the Sri Lankan back to the pavilion.
The in-form batsman could have added another 15 runs on the board, had he placed his shot better.
The Lankans had a tournament to forget and hence need to regroup. However, Matthews will find solace in the fact that he played a classy innings.
Former Pakistan skipper Shoaib Malik announced his retirement from 50-over cricket on Friday, following Pakistan’s 94-run victory over Bangladesh at Lord’s in the 2019 World Cup.
Malik, 37, brought an end to his 20-year long ODI career and said he will concentrate on prolonging his T20 career.
“I’m retiring from ODI cricket. I had planned this for a few years ago to retire on the last Pakistan World Cup match. I’m sad that I will be leaving a format of cricket I once loved but happy that I’ll have more time to spend with my family. This will also allow me to focus on T20s,” Malik said.