While cricket's new broadcasters have claimed the prized scalps of Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting, Shane Warne remains elusive.
Channel Seven is set to confirm Ponting, 43, as one of the prominent faces of its coverage when the new broadcast deal begins next summer, while Gilchrist has already agreed to join Fox Sports.
Heading up the new team: Ricky Ponting.
In a busy off-season for Cricket Australia, with radio rights also up for grabs, it emerged on Friday that Southern Cross Austereo, the owner of Triple M, would not seek a new contract.
Warne, loyal to long-time cricket broadcaster Channel Nine despite being off contract, has yet to determine if he wants to rejoin the cricketing caravan, with his manager James Erskine revealing to Fairfax Media the Test great's interest in broadening his horizons and covering other sports.
"We have got interest from everybody. Warney definitely wants to work with Nine. He has been with Nine for 25 years, there is no doubt he wants to be there – whether that will keep him out of cricket, or he decides he no longer wants to do ball-by-ball commentary, time will tell. As he said to me, he is in in India at the moment: 'I haven't had a year off for 25 years, maybe I'll get it'," he said.
"He also likes (Fox Sports chief) Steve Crawley … they do a good job at Fox. It could be a combination of the two. I don't think Warney has ever been exclusive to anybody – even though he was at Nine, he could do lots of other things. He went and did I'm a Celebrity Get me Out of Here (on Ten) and we have a policy of not being exclusive with one network.
"I think he wants to branch out and do other things other just commentate on cricket. He really enjoys golf, and he loves AFL, he was a very, very fine tennis player, so Nine now has the tennis. We are not rushing to do anything but I think in all probability in the next week to 10 days, it will be all ironed out."
Nine still has the cricketing rights to next year's World Cup in England and the ensuing Ashes series. Nine and Fox Sports have the rights to the US Masters, which could also work in Warne's favour should he want to do a deal with each network. Fox Sports also has the pay-television rights to the AFL.
Warne is in India in a mentoring role with Indian Premier League franchise, Rajasthan Royals.
Ponting's decision to join Seven means he is unlikely to have much time to take on a part-time coaching role with the national side. He had been mentioned as a potential coach of Australia's Twenty20 side but, with a young family, and already coaching in the IPL, he does not have the time.
Justin Langer was last week named as coach of Australia in the sport's three formats.
Seven and Foxtel signed a $1.182 billion deal with CA in April, ending a 40-year association with Nine for international cricket, and Channel Ten's popular coverage of the Big Bash League. Seven will broadcast Test matches and 43 of 59 BBL games, while Fox Sports will televise every game.
Fairfax Media understands former Australian swing bowler Damien Fleming and Brad Hogg, the latter a colourful former Australian spinner who became a cult-hero with the Melbourne Renegades in the BBL, are set to sign with Seven. Seven's coverage will be guided by head of cricket David Barham, who brought innovation to Ten's BBL coverage.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan has joined Gilchrist at Fox Sports, which already had former Australian captain Allan Border and all-rounder Brendon Julian as the face of its coverage.
While the television networks jostle for commentary talent, CA has turned its attention to radio rights deals.
Triple M, featuring James Brayshaw, now with Seven, and funny men Kerry O'Keeffe and Mick Molloy, had provided a fresh take. However, John Kelly , the chief operating officer of SCA, said the network had "made a commercial decision to pursue alternative summer programming".
Pacific Star Network, which merged with Craig Hutchison's Crocmedia, and runs SEN in Melbourne, is set to emerge as a key player on the AM band. The ABC and Fairfax Media's Macquarie Radio had held the AM rights.
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