FOX Sports has signed noted straight-shooter Mark Waugh to partner Adam Gilchrist behind the microphones and recreate their Big Bash magic.
After Channel 7 nabbed Ricky Ponting to front their free-to-air coverage, Fox has hit back hard and confirmed Waugh, Mike Hussey, Melanie Jones, Michael Vaughan and Isa Guha have all joined up to lead its cricket revolution.
That’s over 550 Tests, 1200 ODIs and 75 T20s between the team so far. And there’s more to come.
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It’s understood Fox is also targeting fellow ex-Channel Ten BBL commentary stars Damien Fleming and Andrew Symonds to add to the engaging on-air chemistry and camaraderie already shared between Big Bash favourites Gilchrist, Waugh and Jones.
Gilchrist and Waugh used to open the batting in one-day cricket for Australia and their insightful and hard-hitting combination will form the backbone of Fox Cricket.
While Channel 9’s former commentary team remains virtually untouched by hungry new broadcasters, Fox and Seven are feasting on the talent from Ten’s award-winning BBL coverage.
Amid a raft of new signings, there could be another interesting commentary twist, with cult hero Kerry O’Keeffe also understood to be in Fox’s sights.
O’Keeffe is considered one of the most popular commentators in Australia through his rare brand of humour and insightful research, and he could be targeted to host his own show on the dedicated Fox Cricket channel.
Waugh has been at the coalface of Australian cricket in his role as a national selector and will head to Zimbabwe in July to join Justin Langer’s team for a Twenty20 tri-series.
The pull-no-punches commentator is excited about ramping up his combination with Gilchrist.
“I’m looking forward to working with Gilly, we get on well. He’s a knowledgeable guy and he’s easy to work with,” Waugh said.
“Fox have got a great crew together. AB (Allan Border) and BJ (Brendon Julian) are guys I’ve worked with a lot and it’s going to be exciting to see how it all pans out.
“They’ve got a dedicated channel obviously, which is a first in Australia for cricket. There’s going to be a lot of content on there and the coverage of all the different formats is going to be huge. It’s exciting times.”
Hussey’s signing marks Mr Cricket’s return to television commentary after being dumped by Channel 9 two summers ago.
The popular figure will provide an important analysis role on Fox Cricket.
Mel Jones was also a star of Ten’s Big Bash coverage and has a natural on-screen flair.
The former Australian women’s cricketer, along with former England women’s international Isa Guha, will bring expertise to Fox Cricket’s coverage of the women’s BBL.
Fox Sports are bringing back the old flavour of having international voices feature throughout the international summer, and former England captain Michael Vaughan will be the centrepiece.
Vaughan, like Waugh, is opinionated and unafraid of the consequences.
“My affiliation with Australian cricket goes back many years and I can’t wait to get started later this year,” said Vaughan.
“I’m looking forward to covering some great cricket across the different forms.
“It’s a great team. Gilly, Huss and Mark Waugh — all of whom I have worked with in the past. They’re strong cricket minds and are also able to bring the fun side of the game to the mic, which is important.
“I think Isa will be a great addition and what can I say about my hero Allan Border. He was one of the main reasons why I played the game and now I can call him a teammate.”
Fox Sports head of television Steve Crawley said his team were committed to changing the game.
“Fox Cricket will be about entertainment, fun, chemistry and testing the boundaries. It will honour the past and own the future,” he said.
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