Cricket commentator Adam Gilchrist.
Cricket commentator Adam Gilchrist. Channel 10

Cricketing greats bring Aussie mateship to commentary box

ADAM Gilchrist spent more than a decade entertaining cricket fans all over the world with his swashbuckling style of play.

The legendary keeper-batsman had the ability to put on a show every time he strode out to the wicket as part of the great Australian teams of the late-1990s and 2000s.

These days he's happy to take a back seat - albeit the best in the house - calling the action in the increasingly popular Big Bash League, the increasingly popular domestic Twenty20 competition, as a commentator for Channel 10.

Gilchrist will again be joined by former Australian teammates Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh and Damien Fleming for the coverage that can, refreshingly, be as laid-back as the game itself.

"Mate, it's like being with a bunch of best mates every night, watching a game of cricket on a lounge chair and being asked to talk about it," 'Gilly', as he is so affectionately known, tells APN's The Guide.

"It's the quality of the cricket and the cricketers that is the key to the entertainment, but for us to be able to add to that, we love it."

Channel 10's 2016-17 BBL and WBBL cricket commentary team, from left, Mark Howard, Mark Waugh, Lisa Sthalekar, Damien Fleming, Adam Gilchrist, Mel Jones, Roz Kelly, Andy Maher and Ricky Ponting.
Channel 10's 2016-17 BBL and WBBL cricket commentary team, from left, Mark Howard, Mark Waugh, Lisa Sthalekar, Damien Fleming, Adam Gilchrist, Mel Jones, Roz Kelly, Andy Maher and Ricky Ponting. Channel 10

The chemistry and banter between the cricketing greats is a feature of the broadcast, and exactly what then head of sport David Barham wanted when Channel 10 bought the rights to the fledgling domestic Twenty20 competition in 2013.

"He did a lot of homework in putting the team together ... finding out who were really good mates, who got on well," explains Gilchrist, who played 96 Tests, 287 one-dayers and 13 T20 internationals for his country.

"What he said was just go for it, be yourselves. There's no direction whatsoever. He allowed us absolutely free rein to do whatever we wanted. We have a lot of fun and hopefully that comes through in the coverage, and the viewers can enjoy it as well."

Gilchrist and co will have the added bonus this season of welcoming another old teammate, Andrew Symonds, into the commentary box for a handful of games.

"I can't wait for the cricket-viewing audience to get to know Simmo a little bit better," Gilchrist says of the former all-rounder.

 "He's a larrikin, great fun. But I think they'll find he has a much more astute cricket brain than what the perception may be."

While outspoken former English star Kevin Pietersen is back too, other new additions include presenter Roz Kelly and special guest commentators current Australian coach Darren Lehmann and New Zealand great and now Brisbane Heat captain Brendon McCullum.

It's fair to say however, there will probably be more hits and giggles in the commentary box now than out on the park, with players and fans taking the BBL as a serious - and seriously - good competition that showcasing the best T20 players from here and aboard.

Television viewers are also steadily rising, with an average 1.13 million people tuning in nationally in 2015-16, up from 943,000 the previous season. Last year's BBL final between the Sydney Thunder and the Melbourne Stars peaked at 2.24 million viewers.

The BBL's 2016-17 season starts on Tuesday, December 20 and will include a bumper schedule of 35 games in 40 days, all matches will be broadcast in prime time, live on Ten or One.

The T20 action, however, hits off on December 10 with the start of the Women's Big Bash League as the girls get the ball rolling on a feast of fast and furious cricket, with Australian greats Mel Jones and Lisa Sthalekar among those in the commentary box.

"I think it's fantastic," Gilchrist says. "I'm really looking forward to be a part of that."

Channel 10's coverage of the men's and women's Big Bash Leagues begins next Saturday December 10.

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