Big Bash cricket is returning to Ten this summer, but one of the networks highest profile and most popular presenters will not be part of the commentary team.
DeciderTV understands Ten made the decision not to contract English bowler Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff after management for the popular player requested a considerable pay-rise to continue his role in the Ten commentary team.
The breakdown of the relationship between Flintoff and Ten is surprising given the former winner of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here played a key role in last year’s coverage of the Big Bash season. Flintoff was also a regular co-host on The Project and held a sponsorship agreement with Lipton Ice Tea.
Former Australian cricket player Andrew Symonds, current Australian cricket team coach Darren Lehmann and former New Zealand cricket captain Brendon McCullum have been confirmed by Ten as new recruits for the coverage in 2016/17.
Symonds, Lehmann and McCullum, as well as returning crowd favourite Kevin Pietersen, will join regular expert commentators Adam Gilchrist AM, Ricky Ponting AO, Mark Waugh AM and Damien Fleming to complete an all-star line-up in the commentary box throughout the season.
Earlier this year Network Ten confirmed presenter Roz Kelly will return to Australian television to co-host the broadcast alongside Adam Gilchrist this summer. Kelly replaces previous host Mel McLaughlin.
The network has also confirmed Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh and Damien Fleming have re-signed with the Network until the completion of the 2017-18 season.
Network Ten Executive, Big Bash, David Barham, said:
“The addition of Symonds, Lehmann and McCullum to Network Ten’s commentary team ensures that our coverage of the KFC Big Bash League will continue to be a first-class television experience for fans of all ages.
“Network Ten has the most exciting and contemporary cricket commentary team. To have the current Australian coach in the commentary box for the KFC Big Bash League is unprecedented for fans around the country and something that we are very much looking forward to.
“The KFC Big Bash League has gone from strength to strength on Network Ten over the past three years and we look forward to another bumper season this summer,” he said.
“To have Ricky, Adam, Mark and Damien on board for the next couple of years is a major coup for Network Ten,”
“They have all made a major contribution to the success of the BBL on free-to-air television and have proved exceptionally popular with viewers.
“We cannot wait for the 2016-17 KFC Big Bash League season to start. With some big player movements and international signings, this year will see the best line-up of on-field talent ever assembled. Fans are in for a treat come December,”
The KFC Big Bash League will return to Network Ten on 20 December.
A bumper schedule will see 35 matches played in 40 days, including four double-headers. With all 35 matches to be broadcast in prime time, live and exclusive on TEN or ONE.
The competition’s television audience jumped 25% in the capital cities in 2015-16 and 16% nationally, with an average audience of 1.04 million per match. The Big Final on 24 January attracted 1.66 million viewers nationally.