Isa Guha excited for chance to showcase Test cricket on free-to-air TV
Test cricket coverage is returning to prime-time BBC schedules for the first time in more than 20 years and presenter Isa Guha is thrilled to be leading the charge.
Guha, the first British Asian to play for England Women, appeared 113 times for her country across three formats but spent the vast majority of her decorated playing career off screen.
In almost a decade at the top she became the world’s number one ranked bowler and helped the side win the 2009 World Cup but despite her successes she has plenty of friends and family who never even saw her take the field.
Just a handful of her big moments were carried on television, and those were on subscription services, meaning Guha understands better than most the potential impact of reaching the masses via the national broadcaster.
Wednesday will see highlights of the first #raisethebat Test between England and the West Indies on BBC2, with every Test and ODI match to follow in what should be a packed programme for the national side.
“The only time I ever played on free-to-air was when I was 12 years old, as a participant on Darren Gough Cricket Academy,” she told the PA news agency.
“That seems a bit crazy but it’s true. In my whole career I had maybe 15 games on TV full stop, some of our most incredible moments as a team were not documented visually so they live on in our memories.
“So this summer is a huge opportunity for the sport. We don’t have Wimbledon, we don’t have the Olympics…the only things that are on right now are football and cricket.
“It is a wonderful chance to serve the hardcore fans but also to attract a new audience. I’m so excited about showcasing what is a really strong England team full of amazing cricketers, high quality athletes and big stars in their own right.”
Guha’s leading role gives her a huge platform too, as one of the faces of the sport to fans all over the country.
In years gone by the role those in charge of anchoring the BBC’s coverage have become not only hugely respected but also deeply beloved figures. Guha’s own memories shoot straight to Richie Benaud, the Australian great who became synonymous with cricket on television.
“It’s all a bit surreal, I can never allow myself to think that way…it’s too daunting. I can never be Richie,” Guha said.
“I just want to be the best presenter I can be and that means making it about your guests and get the best out of them. You want to be fun and informative but the highlights are there to cram in a whole day’s play in one show and provide something nice to watch.”
Guha is well aware that she represents a break from those who have held equivalent roles before but is more than happy to front up for sections of the cricket watching, and playing, community that have been under-served in the past.
“I want people to see me for who I am, not what I look like but it’s natural that people will see me as a female and see my Asian background, that’s the way of the world,” she explained.
“But it’s not about ‘diversity’, it’s about representation. There are young kids out there who can relate to someone like myself, and adults as well, because they can see there are opportunities for females and for Asians. They do belong.
“A large percentage of cricket players come from a South Asian background I recognise the responsibility to reflect that.”
:: Highlights from the England v West Indies Test series will begin on 8th July on BBC Two from 7pm.
What was the safety issue and how has England’s decision gone down in Pakistan?
The ECB has pulled its men’s and women’s teams out of next month’s planned white-ball tour of Pakistan.
England cancel Pakistan tour due to ‘mental and physical well-being’ concerns
PCB chair Ramiz Raja accused England of “failing a member of their cricket fraternity when it needed it most”.
England men’s and women’s Pakistan tour cancelled due to ‘well-being’ concerns
The players had been due to head out next month.
Warwickshire title hopes boosted by availability of Chris Woakes
The Bears sit second in the table heading into Tuesday’s final round of fixtures, just 3.5 points behind Hampshire.
Will power trump poise in Anthony Joshua’s ring return against Oleksandr Usyk?
The Briton defends his WBA, IBF and WBO titles against the unbeaten Ukrainian at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this weekend.
‘I feel in good nick’ – Danni Wyatt eager to make middle-order role her own
The 30-year-old hit an unbeaten 63 in England’s win over New Zealand on Sunday.
Danni Wyatt stars with bat as England beat NZ to take 2-0 lead in ODI series
The 30-year-old’s second ODI half-century was the key innings in Worcester.
I want a piece of it – Darren Stevens still has desire to keep pushing with Kent
Kent were crowned Vitality Blast champions at Edgbaston courtesy of a helping hand from the evergreen Stevens.
Chris Cairns on the road to recovery after revealing he suffered spinal stroke
The former New Zealand all-rounder has expressed his gratitude to the medical teams who saved his life and to his many well-wishers.