Channel Seven names female broadcaster Alison Mitchell in Test cricket commentary team
Alison Mitchell (R) and Lisa Sthalekar will both be a part of the Channel Seven commentary team. (Twitter)
Channel Seven has chosen the respected Alison Mitchell as one of its head callers for the next Australian domestic Test series, describing the decision to include a female commentator as “long overdue”.
Mitchell will be one of Seven’s three ball-by-ball callers during its first season of broadcasting Test cricket, joining Tim Lane and James Brayshaw.
The Englishwoman will not be the only female voice heard as part of Seven’s coverage, with Mel McLaughlin joining Brayshaw as dual hosts, and retired Australian Test and one-day international player Lisa Sthalekar named as an expert commentator.
Seven’s announcement follows the decision of Fox Sports, who will also broadcast international and domestic cricket in the coming summer, to include retired Australia player Mel Jones and England’s Isa Guha as part of its commentary team.
Seven’s head of cricket, David Barham, said the signing of Mitchell, who has previously been a part of the ABC radio’s Test coverage, has nothing to do with gender or agendas.
“She’s a gun commentator,” he said.
“1983 was the last time there was a female voice in Test cricket in Australia on free to air TV, 35 years ago. It doesn’t seem right to me.
“It’s appropriate and long overdue, with cricket being a sport that has done so much for women.
“But she’s not picked because she’s a woman.”
Mitchell impressed Barham immensely while calling last summer’s Ashes for BT Sport.
“She’s picked because she is very good at her job. To me she is in the best two or three, that’s what you want,” he said.
@AlisonMitchell tweets: Thank you for the messages I’ve woken up to – your excitement at the summer of Australian cricket is matching mine! So pleased to be joining a brilliant team @7Cricket
Another member of the Seven commentary team, retired Australian Test fast bowler Damien Fleming, suggested the award-winning journalist Mitchell would bring a lot of “knowledge and freshness” to the studio.
“Her research is second to none. She watches so much cricket and covers so much. It was a breeze to work with her last year on BT Sport, the stints went so quickly,” he said.
Mitchell’s appointment to the Seven commentary team has been widely welcomed, with her professionalism highlighted as one of her strengths as a broadcaster.
@melindafarrell tweets: Fantastic news that @7Cricket has signed @AlisonMitchell and @sthalekar93 to part of their commentary team this summer. With @meljones_33 and @isaguha at @FoxCricket we are really entering a new era. Congrats all!
@rharris334 tweets: Best thing here is @AlisonMitchell. Very inspired choice. One hell of a pro.
Seven also confirmed Bruce McAvaney will be part of the network’s cricket coverage, conducting in-depth interviews during lunch breaks at the MCG and SCG Tests.
Ricky Ponting, Glenn McGrath, Michael Slater and Fleming are among the high-profile figures to have already signed on with Seven.
They will be joined by other former players Jason Gillespie, Simon Katich, Brad Hodge, Greg Blewett and Dirk Nannes.
Seven won Test and Big Bash League broadcasting rights as part of a new $1.2 billion deal that also includes Fox Sports.
“We’re not looking at turning the game on its head … the change will really come with the new voices, talent and people,” Barham said.
“I don’t think we’re going to do anything too outlandish outside that. What we will do is tell stories.”