Mark Nicholas’s Radio Lifeline & Michael Clarke’s new ambassador job on life after Channel 9 as FOX Sports & Seven begins Australia’s new Cricket TV rights deal next month


With a month and a half to go before the new TV rights deal starts in Australia, there has been news seen elsewhere.

Let’s put aside from the pool of talented broadcasters placed on both new channels.

We’re focusing on the trio who were part of the old Nine commentary team.

You’re looking at Michael Clarke, Mark Nicholas, and Ian Healy.

Biggest movers from the old to the new networks so far?

Shane Warne became the member to jump from Nine to FOX Cricket’s Revolution three months ago.

It’s a non-exclusive cricket only contract for this network as he will continue to provide his expertise in the commentary box.

A month later, Michael Slater joined Channel 7’s free-to-air coverage of test, Big Bash T20 & women’s cricket.

Expect Slats to feature heavily in Big Bash but also at times in Test & Women’s Cricket on Seven

The network’s Head of Cricket, David Barham will heavily utilize Slater in their BBL coverage.

You may have heard Slater during the Pakistan Super League back in March with fellow Seven recruit Damien Fleming.

The journey continues onto April in the Indian Premier League and at the moment, the Caribbean Premier League with FOX Cricket’s newest star, Melanie Jones.

His excitement and energy in the commentary box will be a useful part of keeping viewers entertained throughout this newly-expanded Big Bash season.

When BBL isn’t on, expect Slater to feature on their test cricket and women’s cricket telecasts.

That’s all that we’ve seen when it comes to musical chairs from the old guard at recent times.

Is anyone staying at Channel Nine?

Yes, some people chose to stay with the Nine Network after all.

Like Slater & Warne, both new TV partners wanted Bill Lawry onboard on a part-time deal.

Thus keeping the tradition of him calling the Boxing Day in Melbourne & New Year’s Test Matches in Sydney every year.

But he doesn’t want to leave Nine and instead chose to retire after an illustrious 40-year plus career in the commentary box.

As part of his complete exit from the public spotlight, Lawry signed a new contract with Nine for life.

What about Ian Chappell?

He might’ve been perfect if Chappell signed up for FOX Cricket’s Coverage.

But he instead chose to follow Lawry & sign a lifetime deal with Nine.

At the same time, Nine’s CEO Hugh Marks gave Chappell a glass of wine as part of his 40-year service with the network.

And how about Mark “Tubby Taylor?

It looks like he won’t be leaving Nine anytime soon on a new three-year contract.

That covers Nine’s leftover Cricket events outside of Cricket Australia’s deal including:

  • 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in England
  • 2019 Ashes Tour in England
  • 2020 ICC World Twenty20 in Australia

Taylor will continue to play a huge role in a panel of guest on their flagship program, Sports Sunday as seen in recent times.

Plus he & Chappell will provide their expertise & opinion of the game on the Wide World of Sports’ Digital Website.

If FOX or Seven want Tubby’s services, they will have to wait at least the start of the 2021-22 cricket season.

What now for the rest of this old commentary team?

It’s impossible that Michael Clarke will commentate for both FOX or Seven.

People like Simon Katich, Ricky Ponting or Adam Gilchrist would not want to sit next to the man who they used to run-in during their playing careers.

No matter how outstanding Clarke once was with the bat, there’s no place for him in the commentary box.

Fortunately, that doesn’t bother him as he’s busy with his business ventures all year around.

Last week, a cryptocurrency company, Global Tech Trade appointed Clarke as their brand ambassador.

The reaction met with widespread mixed criticism both good and bad.

At least, he has a place to keep his day job elsewhere which pleases the Australian cricket public.

What about Ian Healy?

For Ian Healy, we haven’t heard much from him & it’s unlikely that either of both networks will have Heals on board.

He might follow Tubby and stay at Nine since he spent 20 years commentating with this network.

But if nothing pops up, then he’ll be happy with only working as a Director of Hoppy’s Handwash Cafe.

And at last, Mark Nicholas.

For some fans, they do, and some don’t have a particular liking of the 60-year old.

Since it’s a new era of TV rights, both FOX & Seven prefer a new face of hosting cricket in this country.

So fans don’t want to continually see the old face that they’ve last seen over the past 15 plus years.

Thankfully, there’s a lifeline that one particular radio station wanted his signature.

According to the Daily Mail column from Charles Sale, TalkSport has offered Nicholas’ the opportunity to host their overseas cricket coverage.

That’s where TalkSport will cover England’s upcoming overseas Tours in Sri Lanka & West Indies this winter after taking the rights from BBC’s Test Match Special.

If this article becomes true, then good luck to him as Nicholas still has plenty offer even at the age of 60.

It could be a perfect end to wrap up his on-air career especially at a time when BBC/Sky Sports enter the new cricket rights deal in England from 2020-2024.

Don’t forget it’s not the first time that Nicholas has covered a tour for this radio station.

He’s been there once before every time England tours overseas during their winter at the time, (1999-2004).

It’s a been a great ride and thanks for the memories for those who will miss his on-air skills and commentary in Australia.

But it’s time to move on and take fresh blood from one era to another.

It’s the not the end of English talent commentating Down Under.

Though, there’s still plenty of English talent popping up on both FOX and Seven.

As BBC’s Test Match Special losing the overseas rights & complementing BT Sport’s Australian Cricket Coverage in the UK, Michael Vaughan joins FOX Cricket.

Their Head of Sport, Steve Crawley, is an admirer of the former England captain.

Crawley assigned Vaughan during Nine’s Ashes Tours both in Australia and England when he became their sports boss a few years ago.

Viewers would expect a familiar face from overseas who will provide perspective on both teams even though his country doesn’t play here regularly.

You’re looking at the similarity of what Sky Sports did when they employed former West Indies pacer Michael Holding as part of their commentary team.

A delicate balance there to bring up a combination & diverse range of experts:

  • Down Under.
  • Britain.
  • Females.
  • Respective overseas countries’ tours here.

But wait there’s more?

Vaughan isn’t the only Englishman coming into their shores.

Isa Guha who done a great job on Triple M’s cricket coverage over the past two years also joins FOX.

And at Seven, Alison Mitchell will be the first female commentator to call Test Cricket since Kate Fitzpatrick in 1983.

Mitchell will bring fresh energy when it comes to the witnessing the action on the field.

That’s why David Barham had a great get by hiring Mitchell as their ball-by-ball callers on their upcoming test coverage.

Not sure we’ll see her in the BBL when tests don’t come around.

But expect Mitchell to feature on the Women’s Internationals straight after the AFL Grand Final next month.


Most fans will be satisfied with both FOX and Seven’s commentary options from this Summer.

You might not like Warnie, and the same would go to Slats.

Maybe you think because they were once part of the Nine’s so-called “boys club” party of making their jokes & banter.

But both Slats and Warnie do bring energy and in-depth knowledge drawn closer to the game from their previous playing days.

That’s why Seven couldn’t resist Slater and FOX bringing up Warnie to add their respective cricket squads.

At least that’s enough to bring some of the familiar faces we’ve heard from Nine in recent years.

Although, Seven Cricket viewers might have to worry complaining about James Brayshaw since he at times commentated for Nine a few years ago.

If you like FOX, you have to pay for it or there’s always some free-to-air content on Seven.

The rest of the new commentary team, the fans don’t mind listening to them.

As long as it’s not Healy, Clarke, Nicholas or Taylor, they might not have to bring a radio set in front of their lounge rooms any longer.

But the only difference is that if you want to watch FOX Cricket, you have to pay for it.

Though, it doesn’t have to be expensive as the upcoming OTT sports-only service will hit the market this November.

At $20 a month, it represents excellent value of money spent to watch premium cricket and sports content.

If you can’t afford it, then there’s always Seven only on TV, and they have Tests, BBL and Women’s Cricket.

You as the viewer be the judge to see which commentary team is better on Pay or Free-to-Air TV.

Good luck.


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