Networks go to war for Warney
SHANE Warne is looming as the key battleground for Fox Sports and Channel 7.
Cricket's new broadcast rights holders have committed to assembling different commentary teams when they replace Channel 9 as official broadcast partner in the summer of 2018-19.
The end of Channel 9's 40-years as the free-to-air broadcaster of Test cricket in Australia leaves Seven and Fox Sports in a race to sign up on-camera talent.
Warne has reportedly been identified by both Seven and Fox as a key plank in the teams they are aiming to assemble.
It comes after Fox announced it has already signed Aussie cricket legend Adam Gilchrist to become the face of its cricket coverage.
However, Foxtel's sports arm also has ambitions to lure Warne, Fairfax Media reported on Monday.
Warne's high-profile agent James Erskine said Channel 9 is also in the mix for Warne, leaving the spin king in the middle of a three-way tussle.
Nine still has the rights to broadcast the 2019 Ashes in England and next year's ICC Cricket World Cup in the UK.
Erskine told Fairfax only Fox Sports has reached out to him thus far - and stressed Warne will speak with Nine first before weighing up any offer to leave the former home of cricket.
The same report claims Seven has already made an internal decision to chase Warne, but are yet to make their move.
Seven is yet to announce the personality that will champion their cricket coverage.
Cricket's $1.2 billion rights revolution, announced earlier in April, saw Seven and Fox Sports agree to a simulcast deal for Australia's domestic Tests.
In the deal announced by Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland on April 13, Fox Sports will have exclusive rights to Australia's ODI's and Twenty20 internationals.
The pay TV service will also have 16 of the 59 Big Bash games exclusive each season.
The huge interest in the Big Bash has seen popular former Channel 10 Big Bash commentator Gilchrist headhunted by Fox, while, Seven announced last week former Channel 10 Big Bash boss Dave Barham has been appointed head of Seven's cricket coverage.
Fox has announced Gilchrist will also be the face of its test cricket coverage.
"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," Fox Sports boss Patrick 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-batsman did in today's game, Gilly will be the perfect person to front the most innovate cricket coverage on TV.
"We are building a formidable team."
Fox Sports' new era of cricket begins during Australia's Test and one-day series against Pakistan which will be played in the UAE, beginning in October.