BBC is set to broadcast live television coverage of cricket after more than 20 years, bringing the first British Asian woman presenter and former England player, Isa Guha. The announcement about the 34-year-old cricketer is expected to be made soon as the “new face of cricket” on the BBC, after a succession of middle-aged, white male presenters. The broadcaster has reportedly approached Isa from Sky Sports, where she has been working as a commentator on the men's Ashes series.
Guha is the first female commentator to cover Sky Sport's Test cricket and her departure concurs with a shake-up at the station. The former England star players, Sir Ian Botham and David Gower have decided to resign Sky, after years of commentatorship, after the Ashes match. Gower, 62 complained about “rampant change” that has introduced more diversity in broadcasting and said there was “an element of implied ageism” in Sky's decision not to renew his contract.
Guha, ranked as number 1 bowler in the world, made her debut in 2002. She announced her retirement in 2012 and is a regular member of the Test Match Special commentary team on BBC radio. She has also been a presenter on Channel 4's highlights program during the summer's cricket world cup this year. That tournament witnessed more than 40% tickets snapped up by British Asian fans, many of them being the supporter of India or Pakistan over England.
Guha's parents came to UK from Calcutta in the 1970s. “I was born and bred in England,” she said. “I will to this day support England first and then India. I totally understand that other people might not want to do that; they have incredible pride in their heritage and perhaps feel a bit more affinity to the country of their heritage. There's nothing wrong with that.” Guha, an ambassador for the British Asian Trust charity, is likely to be joined by Andrew Flintoff, former England all-rounder, on The Hundred. Flintoff, 41, has an exisiting contract with the BBC to co-present Top Gear.
Richie Benaud and Tony Lews, former skippers of Australia and England respectively, were the commentators when cricket was broadcasted live for the last time on BBC television.