Alastair Cook’s reign as England’s Test cricket captain begins with the unenviable task of claiming the nation’s first series victory in India in almost 30 years.
The first test at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, starting on Thursday, November 15, marks the start of a lengthy tour abroad for England.
Both sides will contest three more test matches and two T20 internationals before Christmas, and a further five ODI contests in the new year, all of which can be seen exclusively live on Sky Sports.
Cook was handed the Test captaincy following an impressive run in charge of the one-day team.
His side embarked on England’s second-longest winning streak in their ODI history and so far he has overseen 19 victories in 31 games.
But the Essex batsman has some sizeable shoes to fill in the Test arena for his country.
His predecessor Andrew Strauss, who retired from all forms of cricket earlier this summer, dragged England from the shadows of the ICC rankings in January 2009 to become officially recognised as the world’s top Test side in August 2011, a mantle they surrendered to South Africa after a disappointing home series defeat this summer.
A trip to India would not have been Cook’s first choice of location to begin his captain’s duties.
Not only have England been waiting almost three decades for a victory here, but their hosts are also protecting a run of eight years without a home series defeat.
MS Dhoni’s side come into these games off the back of two comprehensive victories over New Zealand in August. It was an instant recovery from their humiliating whitewash defeat to Australia at the start of 2012, and one they will be desperate to extend this winter.
England, however, are capable of giving India a much more thorough examination.
They haven’t lost a series abroad since March 2009 and boast both batsmen and bowlers who have been outstanding over the past 12 months.
After a difficult summer both on and off the field, Kevin Pietersen looks set to return to the England fold for this series, while Jonathan Trott are the second and third highest Test run scorers in 2012, while no bowler has taken more wickets in this format than Stuart Broad.
Cook will be looking to these experienced heads to perform at their peak throughout this series and would dearly love to hit the headlines for the right reasons.
England’s tour of India is the first chapter in a new era for English cricket and you can see all the drama unfold live on Sky Sports, or by listening to live commentary on BBC Radio.
Sky Sports will provide exclusive coverage of England’s tour of India on TV, mobile and tablet devices.
Following a much publicised dispute with Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the Sky Sports team will be staying in London to deliver off-tube commentary of all the action in India.
David Gower introduces live coverage, with commentary coming from the regular team of Ian Botham, David Lloyd, Nasser Hussain and Nick Knight.
Michael Atheron will be stationed at the grounds across to provide expert analysis and his own insights into each day’s play.
Extended highlights will be broadcast in the afternoon and evening on Sky Sports, presented by Charles Colville, with guests including Mark Butcher and Bob Willis.
Sky became embroiled in a disagreement with the BCCI after the home board demanded an additional fee of £500,000 from Sky to pay for providing the broadcaster’s production team with commentary facilities at all the venues.
The BCCI was asking for the extra money on top of what Sky already paid for the broadcast rights to the series.
While the BBC resolved their dispute (see below), Sky stood firm to the BCCI’s demands and have decided to provide its own commentary from its Isleworth studios.
Sky’s small reporting team, including Atherton and Tim Abraham, have also been asked to film only outside the ground despite having bought the live rights to the series.
Viewers can choose to watch/listen to the Indian coverage and commentary by pressing the Red Button during live play.
Commentary on the BCCI world feed comes from Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavaskar, Sanjay Manjrekar and Harsha Bhogle.
Test Match Special will have exclusive radio commentary on England’s tour of India.
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew leads the TMS team, who will be broadcasting live from the Tests in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Kolkata and Nagpur.
Agnew will be joined on commentary duty by Henry Blofeld, Simon Mann and Prakash Wakankar, with summarisers including TMS regulars Geoff Boycott and Vic Marks, as well as former India captain Rahul Dravid, the second highest run scorer in Test history.
Commentary is available on BBC 5 live Sports Extra, BBC Radio 4 Long Wave and via the BBC Sport website, while there will also be regular updates from Alison Mitchell on BBC Radio 5 live.
The BBC managed to resolve the dispute with the BCCI that threatened to derail its radio coverage of the entire tour, after the Indian board demanded an additional £80,000 in fees for use of on-site commentary facilities, of which the BBC said were ‘unreasonable demands’.
TMSproducer Adam Mountford said: ‘We are pleased to confirm that Test Match Special will broadcast England’s cricket tour of India from the grounds.’
The BBC issued a further statement saying it was pleased an ‘agreement was reached with all parties’, but it refused to comment on how the agreement was reached or if any extra money had to be paid to the BCCI.
Live coverage of each day’s play will begin approximately 15-minutes before the beginning of play on BBC Radio 5 live Sports Extra and BBC Radio 4 LW.
TMS is also available to listen to via the BBC Sport website.
Wednesday 14th November India v England – Preview Show 6.00pm-7.00pm – Sky Sports 1 November 15-19 India v England – 1st Test Ahmedabad | Play starts: 4.00am (GMT) IND (521-8 & 80-1) | ENG (191 & 406) – IND win by 9 wickets SCORECARDS LIVE: Sky Sports November 23-27 India v England – 2nd Test Mumbai | Play starts: 4.00am (GMT) IND (327 & 142) | ENG (413 & 58-0) – ENG win by 10 wickets SCORECARDS LIVE: Sky Sports December 5-9 India v England – 3rd Test Kolkata | Play starts: 3.30am (GMT) IND (316 & 247) | ENG (523 & 41-3) – ENG win by 7 wickets SCORECARDS LIVE: Sky Sports December 13-17 India v England – 4th Test Nagpur | Play starts: 3.30am (GMT) LIVE SCORECARD Day 1 (Thu) – LIVE: 3.30am-12.00pm – Sky Sports 1 Day 1 (Thu) – Highlights: 4.00pm-5.30pm – Sky Sports 1 Day 2 (Fri) – LIVE: 3.55am-12.00pm – Sky Sports 1 Day 2 (Fri) – Highlights: 4.30pm-6.00pm – Sky Sports 1 Day 3 (Sat) – LIVE: 3.55am-12.00pm – Sky Sports 1 Day 3 (Sat) – Highlights: 3.15pm-4.45pm – Sky Sports 1 Day 4 (Sun) – LIVE: 3.55am-12.00pm – Sky Sports 2 Day 4 (Sun) – Highlights: 2.30pm-4.00pm – Sky Sports 2 Day 5 (Mon) – LIVE: 3.55am-12.00pm – Sky Sports 1 Day 5 (Mon) – Highlights: 5.30pm-7.00pm – Sky Sports 4 Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live Sports Extra – LISTEN LIVE Thursday 20th December India v England – 1st T20 International Nagpur (D/N) | Play starts: 2.30pm (GMT) LIVE: Sky Sports Saturday 22nd December India v England – 2nd T20 International Mumbai (D/N) | Play starts: 2.30pm (GMT) LIVE: Sky Sports Friday 11th January India v England – 1st One Day International Rajkot (D/N) | Play starts: 9.00am (GMT) LIVE: Sky Sports Tuesday 15th January India v England – 2nd One Day International Kochi (D/N) | Play starts: 9.00am (GMT) LIVE: Sky Sports Saturday 19th January India v England – 3rd One Day International Ranchi (D/N) | Play starts: 9.00am (GMT) LIVE: Sky Sports Wednesday 23rd January India v England – 4th One Day International Mohali | Play starts: 6.30am (GMT) LIVE: Sky Sports Sunday 27th January India v England – 5th One Day International Dharamshala | Play starts: 3.30am (GMT) LIVE: Sky Sports