BT's West Indies deal will ease financial concerns and may help bid to re-engage Caribbean diaspora

Machel St Patrick Hewitt

Cricket West Indies and BT Sport have announced a major five-year deal to show West Indies men's and women's home internationals – described as one of the governing body's largest ever broadcast rights agreements.

The announcement marks the third major media deal agreed in the last month following those signed with ESPN in North America and Vibes Radio in Dominica.

The BT deal ensures that UK viewers will have a home to watch England's tour of the Caribbean scheduled for early 2022 but more importantly for the Caribbean diaspora it will cover all home internationals as well as domestic cricket.

The news comes at a time when the Cricket Supporters' Association, backed by a survey being undertaken by The Voice, Britain's biggest paper for the black community, is trying to encourage that community to re-engage with the game, and shortly after the ACE programme, chaired by commentator Ebony Rainford-Brent, was launched by Surrey County Cricket Club last year in response to the huge decline in black professional players.

CWI president Ricky Skerrit said: "Our tour to England last year helped to remind us how strong the West Indies brand continues to be in the UK, and we thank BT Sport for so highly valuing West Indies cricket by committing their broadcast support over the next five years.

"I am delighted to announce one of our largest ever broadcast rights agreements in the form of this unprecedented partnership."

"I am especially pleased that, in partnership with ESPN, BT Sport will also show much of the upcoming CG Insurance Super50 Cup [which started on Feb 7]."

The unprecedented deal ensures that CWI have finally moved on from 2019 when they were left without any broadcast deals following the defeat of Dave Cameron in presidential elections.

Given the financial strain on CWI resources exacerbated by the Covid pandemic, a situation that led to 50 per cent pay cuts for all staff, the boost provided by the BT deal will go a long way to alleviating concerns. In addition, the length of the deal will enable CWI to fund the development and restructuring that is so needed in the domestic game.