'Over the top Ashes coverage is just not cricket'

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A NATIONALIST MSP was last night accused of "talking rubbish" after branding as excessive media coverage of the Ashes Test series.

Sandra White has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament deriding the airtime given to the series on terrestrial channels.

The MSP for Glasgow said there is no appetite for the game in Scotland, and such scheduling decisions show the need for a separate Scottish television channel.

Although the five-Test series is being broadcast live on Sky Sports, it has featured prominently in news and sports bulletins on terrestrial channels as well as on radio programmes.

Ms White compared Scottish interest in cricket to English interest in minority sports such as curling, and has claimed the imbalance must be addressed.

She said: "I don't think that in Scotland cricket merits the same support that it does down south. I would certainly support the case for our own broadcasting company that would give priority to Scottish sport.

"Those who want to see the cricket can get Sky. I do think it gives more grist to the mill for our own broadcasting company."

Ms White, whose website supports the charity UnLtd, which helps communities organise indoor cricket mini-world cups, was supported by her SNP colleague, Bill Wilson.

The MSP for the West of Scotland argued that the coverage was as incongruous in Scotland as World Cup campaigns by the England football team.

However, Jamie McGrigor MSP, the Scottish Conservatives' spokesman for sport, said: "I think Sandra White's talking rubbish and her comments are out of order.

"She may not be aware, but more people in Scotland play cricket than rugby.

"Were the game forced down people's throats, she may have a point, but it is not. It's not even live on terrestrial television."

Roddy Smith, chief executive of Cricket Scotland, dismissed Ms White's motion as a "storm in a teacup" and told The Scotsman there was a growing number of cricket fans north of the Border.

He said: "There has been great interest from Scots in the Ashes. As far as we are concerned, the more cricket that is on television to promote interest, the better. Ms White's comments are a storm in a teacup, to be honest."

Pointing to the 18,000 pupils across Scotland's schools who play cricket, with a further 12,000 members playing at club level, he added: "There is a huge amount of interest in cricket among Scottish people spread across the country. You only have to look ahead to next month, when BBC Scotland will broadcast the one-day international between the Scotland team and Australia."

Four years ago, Christine Grahame dubbed prominent BBC news coverage of England's Ashes victory as "insulting" to the world's poor and starving.