Aussie batting legend Mark Waugh has elected to step down from his role as a national selector to dedicate himself to a full-time commentating gig for pay-TV provider Fox Sports.
Waugh has held the post of national selector since May 2014, but is pulling up sticks to head over to Cricket Australia’s new host broadcaster, Fox Sports (which is part-owned by News Corporation), after they splashed the cash to secure Australia’s cricket TV right. The purchase comes in the form that, for the first time ever, Cricket Australia has agreed that their ODIs and Twenty20s can be hidden behind a paywall. This is a first for Australia and it is highly unlikely to prove popular with the common Aussie man or woman.
‘I know he puts himself into a little bit of a conflict of interest by being a commentator as well, but I don’t think that’s the forum to discuss anything like that,’ said Shaun Graf, Cricket Victoria’s operations manager in relation to the conflict of interest between being a selector and a commentator. ‘Maybe “Junior” should concentrate on his special comments but not maybe talk as much in relation to the selection side of things.’
Ric Charlesworth (an Australian sports coach, as well as a former politician and Western Australian state cricketer) shoved the issue of Waugh’s selector/commentator conflict of interest firmly under the spotlight when he summed up the situation in his 2016 book, World’s Best: ‘One of the Australian selectors, Mark Waugh, appears on television as an expert commentator and gives opinions on form and performance… this appears [to be] an extraordinary conflict of interest. Many of the traditional boundaries are being crossed and there is increasing pressure for coaches and players to “come out” of the game during the contest and sponsors, broadcasters and producers drive this behaviour.’
Waugh joins a Fox Sports commentary team that includes Adam Gilchrist, Michael Hussey and former England skipper Michael Vaughan.