Seven’s invincible all-star cricket team
The Ashes and BBL live and free on Your Home of Cricket
In keeping with a 2021-22 Summer of Cricket that promises to be the greatest ever, the Seven Network has unveiled the most star-studded commentary team ever assembled, a line-up brimming with internationally acclaimed icons, on and off the field.
With Test cricket’s greatest rivalry, Australia v. England, set to take centre stage this summer, two of the most celebrated figures in Ashes’ history – legendary England all-rounder Lord Ian Botham and Australia’s all-time leading Test run-scorer, Ricky Ponting – will lead the live and free coverage on Seven.
Lord Botham is not the only globally renowned Englishman joining Seven this season. Also adding a distinctively British flavour to the coverage will be much-loved actor, comedian and writer Stephen Fry, 2019 Ashes fast-bowling hero Jofra Archer, ex-Test player and leading commentator David “Bumble” Lloyd, and charismatic former star off-spinner Graeme Swann.
Across an action-packed summer when an electrifying new Big Bash League season will also have fans on the edge of their seats, these big names are just the start of Seven’s formidable on-air line-up.
A who’s who of former on-field stars and fan favourites will also return to cricket’s #1 team in 2021-22, including Damien Fleming, Simon Katich, Mel McLaughlin, James Brayshaw, Lisa Sthalekar, Greg Blewett, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hodge, Trent Copeland, Tim Lane, Alison Mitchell, Callum Ferguson, Abbey Gelmi, Jason Richardson, Andy Maher, Alister Nicholson and Erin Holland.
They will be joined by former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum and five-time ICC Umpire of the Year Simon Taufel, while current Big Bash stars Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Aaron Finch, Andre Russell and Ashton Agar will be regulars on Seven’s live and free BBL coverage.
With a Test rivalry dating back to 1877, cricket’s oldest foes, Australia and England, have produced some of sport’s most memorable moments in their eternal battle for the treasured Ashes urn.
This summer, fans can look forward to more unforgettable Ashes action as the Aussies square off with England over a full five-match Test series, live and free on Seven.
From the opening day of the first Test at the Gabba on 8 December, Lord Botham will be part of cricket’s premier commentary team for all five Ashes Tests, as will the game’s most astute commentator, Ponting.
Lord Botham said Joe Root’s team could become just the second English Test side to record a series win in Australia since 1986-87.
“I’m thrilled to be back in Australia as it opens up after an extremely challenging couple of years – the Ashes has arrived at a perfect time to help reunite the country,”
“As far as the series goes, I think it’s wide open and, just like any Ashes series of the past, it’s almost impossible to predict as both teams have the ability to rise to another level. Many players of the future are born in an Ashes series, as you saw during the last series with the emergence of Marnus Labuschagne and Jofra Archer.
“I’m extremely excited to be part of the Seven summer family and working with a first-class team. I truly believe England can come away with a victory and take back the Ashes – in fact, I’ll put a case of my best wine up against a case of Punter’s best!”
Ponting, however, said Australia entered this summer in the box seat.
“Our Aussie conditions have plagued English outfits for decades and, with more than half of the English squad having never played on our shores, it will take an almighty effort for England to play the calibre of cricket required to reclaim the urn in Australia – a feat that hasn’t been achieved since 1986-87,”
“If Joe Root can continue his run of career-best form – six centuries, including two doubles, this calendar year – England is a fighting chance. But they’ll be heavily reliant on their seasoned bowling attack of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad to deliver an upset.
“Australia’s squad depth puts it in a better position to claim a 34th Ashes series win. Any perceived weakness in our team will provide an opportunity for our players to step up and make their mark – the Ashes has a knack of elevating players to new heights!
“I can’t wait to watch what will be a close-fought Ashes series from the best seat in the house, on Seven.”
BIG BASH LEAGUE
Three days before the Test series begins, a new season of the Big Bash League kicks off on Seven – and it promises to be the best yet.
BBL 11 will start with a bang next Sunday, 5 December, on a blockbuster day of live and free sport that also includes the Repco Bathurst 1000. Soon after Seven’s coverage of Australian motorsport’s biggest race winds up, reigning BBL champions Sydney Sixers will take on their fiercest rivals, Melbourne Stars, at the SCG from 7.30pm AEDT on Channel 7 and 7mate.
This epic season-opener launches six straight nights of BBL on Seven, each one featuring a prime-time blockbuster.
Across the 2021-22 summer, fans will again enjoy 45 games live and free on Seven, including all five finals.
On 18 days of the season, live and free BBL matches will follow stumps in the Ashes series, including five mega days featuring back-to-back Big Bash clashes on top of a full day’s play in the Australia v. England Test showdown.
The regular season BBL fixture concludes at the earlier date of 19 January, with the finals series beginning on Friday, 21 January, with the BBL 11 champions crowned in the all-important Final on Friday, 28 January.
Former Australian women’s captain Lisa Sthalekar is counting down the days to the start of the season.
“Given Australia’s inspirational win in the T20 World Cup, I can’t wait for the BBL, where we’re sure to see more exciting youngsters pushing their claims to part of the Australian side moving forward,”
“There will also be fresh international faces joining the league and that always adds an interesting element. But the most exciting part of the summer for me is that fans will be back watching and cheering their club to victory.
“Nothing beats a packed house riding the emotions that only T20 cricket can dish up .”
Former Australian middle-order batsman and T20 star Brad Hodge said BBL 11 was poised to be a classic season.
“With Aussie T20 World Cup stars such as Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa, Mitch Marsh and Matthew Wade all in action, along with international fan favourites such as Rashid Khan, Carlos Braithwaite, James Vince and Alex Hales, fans can look forward to plenty of star power in BBL 11,”
“When you add the mega days around the Ashes, the earlier finals series and the competition’s blockbuster rivalries, this season is set to be an absolute ripper.”
Managing Director Seven Melbourne and Head of Network Sport, Lewis Martin, said:
“With an epic fixture that includes a super-charged new season of BBL and Test cricket’s most iconic series, the Ashes, this season’s summer of cricket will be the best ever – and Seven has assembled an all-star commentary team to match.
“With Lord Ian Botham joining Ricky Ponting in an on-air line-up that was already comfortably cricket’s best, along with household English names such as Stephen Fry, David Lloyd, Jofra Archer and Graeme Swann, Seven is the only place to be this summer.”
Seven’s commentary team
Ricky Ponting – Expert Commentator
One of the most decorated cricketers in the game’s history, Ponting has led Seven’s commentary team since its foundation in 2018-19. In 168 Test matches, Ponting bludgeoned 13,378 runs at the remarkable average of 51.85 and currently sits second on the all-time runs list, behind Indian great Sachin Tendulkar. The Tasmanian also captained Australia in 77 Tests from 2004 to 2010 – second behind Allan Border – and in One Day Internationals also led the Aussies to the 2003 and 2007 World Cup crowns. Now widely regarded as the best cricket commentator in the world, Ponting’s intimate knowledge of the game is matched by his ability to communicate to cricket fans of all levels of interest and understanding. Twitter: @RickyPonting Instagram: rickyponting
Lord Ian Botham – Expert Commentator
The straight-talking former England captain was one of the game’s greatest all-rounders, finishing his Test career with 5200 runs and 383 wickets from 102 matches. One of cricket’s genuine match-winners, Lord Botham changed the course of the 1981 Ashes in England with his destructive stroke play and 34 wickets over the six-match series. He also scored a century and took five wickets in the same Test on five occasions – a feat no other player has managed more than twice. At Mumbai in 1980, he became the first man to score a century and take 10 wickets in the same Test. Lord Botham joins Seven for an epic summer of cricket that features the Ashes Test series and BBL 11.
Mel McLaughlin – Host
McLaughlin has hosted a raft of leading sporting events on the national and world stage, including Test and BBL cricket, the Olympic Games, FIFA World Cups, Winter Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, the Melbourne Cup Carnival and the Melbourne F1 Grand Prix. As 7NEWS Sydney’s sports anchor, McLaughlin presents sport five nights a week, following a passion she has lived and breathed from a very young age as part of a sports-mad family. This summer, McLaughlin will host the Ashes Test matches and blockbuster BBL games.
Damien Fleming – Expert Commentator
Fleming compiled an impressive career for Australia as a fast-medium swing bowler, taking 75 wickets at the excellent average of 25.89 in Test matches and 134 wickets in 88 One Day Internationals at 25.38. The Victorian’s career highlights include a Test hat-trick on debut against Pakistan, 31 Test wickets over the 1999-2000 summer and his key role in the victorious 1999 World Cup team. “Flem” has been equally successful since moving into the commentary box on television and radio, where fans have loved his entertaining and insightful “bowlology” theories.
Alison Mitchell – Test Match Caller
International sports broadcaster and commentator Alison Mitchell is an award-winning journalist and has won plaudits around the world for her polished and professional cricket commentary. She started her career at the BBC, where she has worked extensively across television and radio in broadcasting and journalism. She also has more than 10 years’ experience in ball-by-ball commentary internationally, having covered series in England, Australia, Sri Lanka and India. A meticulous researcher and lover of the game, Mitchell also has an instinctive ability to draw out the best from the experts alongside her in the commentary box.
James Brayshaw – Host and Caller
Brayshaw enjoyed a distinguished cricket career at first-class level, averaging 42.53 runs across 75 matches as a top-order batsman. He was also part of two Sheffield Shield-winning teams, with Western Australia in 1987-88 and South Australia in 1995-96. Brayshaw has become a fan favourite since moving into television and radio, both as a host and commentator. This summer, he will co-host and call Australia’s Test series against England, along with BBL matches.
Lisa Sthalekar – Expert Commentator
The former Australian women’s captain forged a stellar international career as an all-rounder from 2001 to 2013, becoming the first woman to score 1000 runs and take 100 wickets in One Day Internationals. She was named the Australian Women’s Cricketer of the Year in 2007 and 2008, and was a member of the World Cup triumphs in 2005 and 2013. Sthalekar has since made a seamless transition to the commentary box and will commentate on BBL games this summer.
Brendon McCullum – Expert Commentator
McCullum is a New Zealand cricketing great and one of the most explosive wicketkeeper/batsmen in Test and limited-overs history. A fixture in the New Zealand team for nearly 15 years, he played 101 Tests, 260 ODIs and 71 T20s, captaining the Black Caps in all three formats. A born entertainer, he blasted the fastest-ever Test century (54 balls) against Australia in 2016 and was the first New Zealander to score a triple hundred and 1000 Test runs in a calendar year. More recently, McCullum has brought his engaging personality and down-to-earth manner to Seven’s commentary box.
Tim Lane – Test Match Caller
One of the best-known voices in Australian sport, Lane has earned enormous respect from sports fans over more than 40 years as an award-winning broadcaster and journalist. During that time, he has become synonymous with Australian cricket as one of the game’s leading callers. He has covered more than 100 Test matches, including the Aussies’ most recent series in Pakistan in 1998 when Mark Taylor made his famous unbeaten 334. Lane has also called more than 1500 AFL games, five Olympic Games and seven Commonwealth Games. His articulate commentary and thoughtful analysis make him an integral member of the Seven cricket team. This summer, he will call all five Test matches.
Simon Katich – Expert Commentator
A hardnosed left-hander whose greatest success came as an opener, Katich played 56 Tests for Australia from 2001 to 2010, averaging 45.03 runs. As a part-time left-arm wrist spinner, he also proved a handy partnership-breaker, taking 21 Test wickets at the highly respectable average of 30.23. Since retiring, Katich has showcased his keen tactical understanding of cricket as an expert commentator. He returns to Seven’s team this summer for the much-anticipated Ashes Test series.
Greg Blewett – Expert Commentator
A stylish right-handed stroke-maker who played both Test and One Day International cricket for Australia, Blewett’s penchant for shots square of the wicket and powerful cover drive made him a natural entertainer. He played 46 Tests in a dominant Australian team from 1995 to 2000, scoring four centuries and regularly providing a valuable back-up bowling option as a medium pacer. Having impressed as a commentator in recent years, Blewett returns to Seven this summer for the Ashes and BBL 11.
Matthew Hayden – Expert Commentator
One of Australia’s greatest openers of all-time, the destructive left-hander menaced opposition bowling attacks across 103 Test matches from 1994 to 2009, averaging 50.74 and scoring 30 centuries. In 2003, he recorded the then-highest individual Test innings, 380 runs against Zimbabwe, a score that remains the second highest in Test history. Hayden also enjoyed a stellar ODI career, averaging 43.80 over 161 matches. The Queensland fan favourite will join Seven’s cricket coverage again this summer.
Brad Hodge – Expert Commentator
With an unbeaten Test double century to his name and a reputation as one of the world’s most consistent T20 players, viewers have more recently come to know Hodge via his insightful commentary of BBL matches. Unlucky not to play more than six Tests after averaging 55.83 as a middle-order batsman, the Victorian represented Australia in all three forms of the game. Hodge will again provide expert commentary throughout the BBL this summer.
Trent Copeland – Expert Analysis
The star seamer continues to juggle his first-class career with New South Wales and commentary since joining Seven’s team in 2018-19. Copeland’s ongoing involvement in the Sheffield Shield means he brings rare insight to the commentary box, where he can draw on his first-hand knowledge of current players, many of whom he will play with or against this season. He puts this knowledge to excellent use with his plain-speaking match analysis that takes viewers inside the day’s play. Copeland will again unravel elite cricket’s tactics and strategy like no one else can during this summer’s Test series and the BBL.
Abbey Gelmi – Host
Gelmi has presented across Seven’s cricket, Olympic Games, horse racing and Brownlow Medal coverage with a grace and energy that viewers have warmly embraced. She has also worked in sports journalism and national breakfast television, covering breaking sports news. As the granddaughter of Australian middle-distance great Herb Elliott, sport is in her blood. A key member of Seven’s cricket coverage again this summer, Gelmi will host BBL matches.
Callum Ferguson – Expert Commentator
Ferguson represented Australia in all three forms of the game, averaging an outstanding 41.43 runs over 30 ODI matches from 2009 to 2011. The South Australian right-hander also enjoyed a decorated 18-year first-class career with the Redbacks and played in the first 10 BBL seasons, captaining Sydney Thunder from 2019-20 to 2020-21. A revelation since making his on-air debut with Seven in this year’s WBBL tournament, Ferguson will bring his fresh voice and exceptional insight to the live and free BBL coverage this summer.
Simon Taufel – Expert Analyst
After his career as a fast-medium bowler was cut short by injury, Taufel moved into umpiring, progressing so quickly through the ranks he made his first-class debut in 1994 aged just 24. By the time he retired in 2012, he was widely considered the best umpire of his generation after an international career that spanned 74 Tests, 174 ODIs and 34 T20s. He won five consecutive ICC Umpire of the Year awards from 2004 to 2008, and later worked as the ICC’s Umpire Performance and Training Manager. This summer, Taufel returns to Seven’s Test team, where viewers will enjoy his expert insights into contentious umpiring decisions.
Andy Maher – Host
Describing himself as the “unfunny one” from The Front Bar and “least swashbuckling” member of Seven’s BBL commentary team, Maher is also a highly respected journalist and sport presenter on radio and television. Maher’s extensive media commitments cover a variety of sports, including AFL and cricket. He will again host BBL matches this summer. Twitter: @AndyMaherDFA Instagram: andymaherdfa
Jason Richardson – Host
An experienced broadcaster and former elite sprinter, Richardson will host BBL matches across Seven’s cricket coverage this summer. A Stawell Gift winner in 1993, he brings plenty of personality and fun to a broad range of sports on Seven. A key member of Seven’s horse racing team as a host and commentator, Richardson has also worked on the Olympic Games, Winter Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, Australian Open tennis and Australian Open golf.
Alister Nicholson – Commentator
Nicholson has become one of sport’s most recognisable voices over the past decade as an ABC Grandstand commentator on cricket and AFL football. His broadcasting experience extends to the NRL, A-League, Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, Australia’s major golf tournaments and the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Before joining Grandstand, he was a highly respected sport journalist in Tasmania, while this summer he returns to Seven’s BBL commentary team.
Erin Holland – Sideline Reporter
Erin is a television host and presenter whose cricket experience includes working on the Indian Premier League, Pakistan Super League and Canada’s Global T20 competition. Named Miss World Australia in 2013, Holland is also a classically trained soprano singer, holding a Bachelor of Classical Voice degree from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Twitter: @erinvholland Instagram: erinvholland
Seven’s Summer of Cricket
Begins 5 December – Sydney Sixers v. Melbourne Stars
Across BBL 11, fans will enjoy 45 games live and free on Seven, including all five finals.
The season starts on 5 December with Sydney Sixers v. Melbourne Stars at the SCG, at 7.30pm AEDT on Channel 7 and 7mate, the first of six straight nights of BBL on Seven.
The home and away fixture concludes on 19 January with a tantalising double-header on Seven featuring Sydney Thunder v. Melbourne Renegades, followed by Melbourne Stars v Hobart Hurricanes.
The five-match finals series begins on Friday, 21 January, with the all-important Final scheduled for Friday, 28 January.
The Ashes: Australia v England Test series Starts 8 December
First Test: Gabba, 8-12 December
Coverage starts at 10.00am AEDT on Channel 7 and 7mate on all five days
Second Test: Adelaide Oval, 16-20 December (day-night)
Coverage starts at 2.00pm AEDT on Channel 7 and 7mate on all five days
Third Test: MCG, 26-30 December
Coverage starts at 9.30am AEDT on Channel 7, 7mate and 7two on all five days
Fourth Test: SCG, 5-9 January
Coverage starts at 9.30am AEDT on Channel 7 and 7mate on all five days
Fifth Test: Perth, 14-18 January
Coverage starts at 12.30pm AEDT on Channel 7 and 7mate on all five days