Michael Slater, the former Australia opening batsman and now commentator, will be heard on Channel Nine’s World Cup broadcast after the ICC confirmed he remains a part of the world broadcast feed for the event, due to begin on May 30.
Following a highly publicised incident on Sunday when Slater was escorted from a Qantas domestic flight from Sydney to his hometown of Wagga Wagga, after becoming embroiled in a heated argument with two female fellow travellers, ESPNcricinfo understands he was spoken to by host broadcasters and reminded of the behavioural standards all commentators must uphold.
However, Slater is set to return to Australian television screens with Nine, his former network, as well as Fox Sports, the pay television broadcaster that will air all the tournament’s matches. Nine has the free-to-air rights to screen Australia’s nine round-robin matches, plus the semi-finals and tournament final at Lord’s on July 14.
Last year Slater moved from Nine to Seven, following the latter’s winning of broadcast rights for matches in Australia in a combined deal with Fox Sports worth A$1.18 billion to Cricket Australia. A central figure in Seven’s broadcast, particularly for the Big Bash League, Slater did not continue his role throughout the summer, missing from the back-end of the season and the BBL finals series in early February.
It is believed this decision was made mutually between Slater and Seven for personal reasons, though he is still under contract with the network for another season and may yet return.
Since then, Slater has commentated on the Indian Premier League, and will soon be heard again on Nine and Fox Sports for the World Cup. In a statement to Macquaries Radio, a contrite Slater confirmed the incident on the plane: “I did have an argument with two friends whilst boarding a flight to Wagga and I apologise for the inconvenience this caused other passengers on the flight.”
Nine, which lost its rights as the host broadcaster for Australian cricket for the first time since Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket breakaway more than 40 years ago, will ironically broadcast the returns of the previously banned Steven Smith and David Warner in the wake of the Newlands scandal, after Seven and Fox Sports suffered by their absence over the 2018-19 summer.
The network’s World Cup coverage will be hosted by Rebecca Maddern, alongside former national team captains Mark Taylor, Ian Healy and Lisa Sthalekar.
Seven recently unveiled the former New Zealand captain and Brisbane Heat batsman Brendon McCullum as a new addition to its commentary team for next summer. McCullum will also be heard on the World Cup broadcast.