The biggest domino in Australian cricket's TV war has fallen with test legend Ricky Ponting reportedly agreeing to a multmillion-dollar deal to be the face of Channel 7's cricket coverage.
Ponting's decision to join Aussie cricket's new free-to-air broadcaster will put the 43-year-old in direct competition with former Big Bash commentary colleague Adam Gilchrist — who signed on as the face of Fox Sports' cricket revolution two weeks ago.
The Daily Telegraph reports Ponting agreed to terms on a new contract with Foxtel on Thursday confirming the former Australian captain's plan to take on a commentary role over a coaching position.
Ponting had been talked about as a potential coach of Australia's Twenty20 side after the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal.
Australian cricket underwent its biggest media shake-up in 40 years in April when Fox Sports and Seven signed a joint $1.182 billion broadcast deal to win the broadcasting rights from the Nine Network.
The two networks will broadcast all home and domestic cricket for at least the next six summers.
Seven will broadcast Test matches and 43 of 59 Big Bash games, while Fox Sports will televise every game.
Ponting and Gilchrist, along with Damien Fleming and Mark Waugh, were popular members of Network Ten's Big Bash League commentary.
Seven's Ponting play follows reports Fox Sports earlier this week landed a second giant fish in the commentary game — signing former English test captain Michael Vaughan on a multi-year deal.
Cricket.com.au reported Thursday Vaughan has been picked up by Foxtel as a long-term partner to Gilchrist.
The Australian reports Channel 9 commentator and Aussie legend Shane Warne is now the most in-demand commentator in Australian cricket with both Seven and Foxtel chasing his signature for when their cricket broadcast deal commences this summer.
Former Australian wicketkeeper Gilchrist was the first major signing following the announcement this month that Fox Sports would become the home of cricket for at least the next six summers.
Foxtel and Fox Sports CEO Patrick Delany last month promised to "revolutionise" the cricketing television experience, having secured the rights to almost every international and domestic match for the forseeable future.
Signing the highly-rated Gilchrist was his first big move.
Gilchrist spoke of his excitement about joining Fox Sports' cricket team when unveiled two weeks ago.
"Sport has been a major part of my life, as a player and now a commentator, so to join a network that is 100 per cent focused on sport is something I am extremely excited about," Gilchrist said.
"Fox Sports' new partnership with cricket has seen a big commitment to the game — a game that I clearly love — and I can't wait to be a part of the family.
"It's a changed landscape for cricket coverage in this country, where viewers have more choice and more variety than ever — and this will be great for the game."
Delany said Gilchrist will set new and elite standards.
"Gilly is one of the most loved cricketers of all time. He will lead the Fox Cricket coverage working across all three forms of the game," Delany said.
"Fans love his opinion and analysis, the way he combines pure class and humour.
"In the same way he set a new standard for what a wicket-keeper/batsmen did in today's game, Gilly will be the perfect person to front the most innovative cricket coverage on TV.
"We are building a formidable team and the only place to watch is on Foxtel."
Gilchrist joins current Fox Sports' experts Allan Border and Brendon Julian, with more additions to the commentary team set to be announced in due course as part of the biggest shake-up in cricket broadcasting history.
In a historic first, Fox Sports will broadcast every home cricket match Australia plays from the start of October 2018, when the team takes on Pakistan in the UAE.
In a major coup for fans they will be able to watch matches uninterrupted and ad-free on the subscription television network.
Fox Sports Australia — in partnership with the Seven Network and Cricket Australia — announced the six-year deal worth $1.182 billion on April 13.
Every home Test and women's international will be simulcast on Fox Sports and on free-to-air on the Seven Network.
Fox Sports will also broadcast every home one-day and Twenty20 international the men's team plays. The network has provided Australian cricket fans with coverage of the men's team in all overseas matches for the past 20 years.
Fox Sports will also be televising the entirety of the Big Bash League (16 matches exclusively) and simulcasting 23 Women's Big Bash League matches with the Seven Network.
And in a boon for state cricket, domestic List A and first-class matches will return to television screens, with 13 JLT One-Day Cup matches and the Sheffield Shield Final to be broadcast on Fox Sports.
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