Ashes coverage of BT Sport in turmoil just 12 days before first test on Michael Vaughan furore

BT Sport’s Ashes coverage in turmoil just 12 days before first Test over Michael Vaughan caused a stir as plan to block his commentary is overturned by former England captain to be signed with Australian rights holders Fox Sports


BT Sport’s plans for their live Ashes coverage have been shaken just 12 days before the first Test in Brisbane due to the ongoing furore surrounding Michael Vaughan.

As Sportsmail revealed on Thursday, BT is adamant they don’t want to use Vaughan following allegations that he used racist language against Azeem Rafiq and three other Yorkshire players 12 years ago.

But the former England captain remains contracted to provide commentary for Australian rights holders Fox Sports, who have agreed to provide an audio feed to BT’s London studio.

BT refuses to use Michael Vaughan after allegations he used racist language against Azeem Rafiq

BT refuses to use Michael Vaughan (left) after allegations he used racist language against Azeem Rafiq (right)

BT continues to hope that Fox will solve their problem by dropping Vaughan, but have started exploring other options and are encountering a host of problems.

Sportsmail has been informed that negotiations with the other Australian rights holders Channel Seven about including their feed have not progressed, with BT also struggling to put together a team of ex-players and broadcasters willing to work all night long. working on live commentary from London.

Experienced broadcaster Matt Smith has been signed on to cover BT’s coverage, with former England captain Sir Alastair Cook and fast bowler Steve Harmison providing expert analysis during lunch and tea breaks. But putting together a full commentary team proves to be a much bigger challenge.

Michael Vaughan looked sullen when spotted in Alderley Edge, Cheshire on Wednesday.  BT Sport have decided to remove his comments from their coverage of the upcoming Ashes series, while BBC Radio has withheld Vaughan from their commentary

Michael Vaughan looked sullen when spotted in Alderley Edge, Cheshire on Wednesday. BT Sport have decided to remove his comments from their coverage of the upcoming Ashes series, while BBC Radio has withheld Vaughan from their commentary

Sky Sports’ coverage of England’s tour of Sri Lanka last winter featured Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain and Rob Key providing televised commentary from London. But Channel Four took over the feed from host Star Sports after winning the rights to the UK tour of India later in the winter.

BT may not have that option due to the Vaughan issue, but also doesn’t have permanent cricket staff to do the work remotely, so they’re trying to recruit freelancers and ex-players. The timing of the delayed series hasn’t helped matters, with many people reluctant to work nights leading up to Christmas and the New Year – especially with five Tests set to take place in just seven weeks.

Vaughan has categorically denied saying ‘too many of you much, we need to do something about it’ to Rafiq ahead of a Twenty20 Cup match in 2009. He insisted this week that he was looking forward to traveling to Australia to play for Fox to be rejected by the BBC to work.

Azeem Rafiq alleged Vaughan made racist comments towards Asian players at Yorkshire CCC, former England captain alleges

Azeem Rafiq alleged Vaughan made racist comments towards Asian players at Yorkshire CCC, former England captain alleges

Vaughan took to Instagram after the announcement to say he was

Vaughan took to Instagram after the announcement to say he was “very disappointed” to have been taken off BBC coverage and said he was looking forward to working with Fox Sports

“Very disappointed not to have commented for TMS (Test Match Special) on the Ashes and will miss working with great colleagues and friends but looking forward to being behind the mic for @foxcricket in Australia,” Vaughan posted on Instagram.

“The problems cricket faces are bigger than any individual case and I want to be part of the solution, listening, educating myself and helping to make it a more welcoming sport for everyone.”

lThe ECB has been embarrassed as they prepared to announce a new 12-point diversity action plan today – with the sudden resignation of Leicestershire chairman Mehmooda Duke.

The lawyer is the only female chair of the 18 first-class provinces and one of only two people of color in such roles, and her departure was a premature blow to the ECB, which is trying to address the chronic lack of diversity in sport.

Duke was due to resign in March, but chose to leave immediately and appeared to target ECB chief Tom Harrison in her resignation statement.

“Cricket has been torn apart by recent events and I am deeply saddened by the pain individuals feel within our game,” she said.

“With new leadership at the national level and determined to learn from the recent past, I hope that racism will be eradicated from the locker rooms, the fields and the game as a whole so that we can celebrate the diversity that makes cricket and sport in this country so big.’

England captain Joe Root pictured during training for the Ashes in Australia.  The first test will start in Brisbane on December 8

England captain Joe Root pictured during training for the Ashes in Australia. The first test will start in Brisbane on December 8

Tim Paine, who has since been forced to resign as Australia captain, with the trophy in 2019 after they retained the Ashes in a draw in England

Tim Paine, who has since been forced to resign as Australia captain, with the trophy in 2019 after they retained the Ashes in a draw in England

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