Where does Cricket go from here? Meet our final panellist: BBC Lead Executive, Stephen Lyle

Tell us a little bit about yourself Stephen…

I love most sports.  I gave just about everything a try as a youngster but played football and cricket to a decent level. Now I just watch everything! Outside of sport I’m something of a news junkie and am fascinated by politics globally, these are interesting times! I’m passionate about social justice and have an idealistic dream of a meritocratic world.  But this means that I am actively involved in fighting for diversity particularly within the media.

How did you get into your role at the BBC?

A long road.  I received a journalism scholarship after leaving uni and did my NCTJ.  I did a couple of years as a news reporter for guardian media group before being asked to join the BBC current affairs team as an assistant producer. While there I heard about opportunities to join BBC Sport. I left current affairs for sport in 2000 and worked my way up to programme editor at BBC Sport for football and major events.  I was tempted away by Channel 4 where I led their sports department from 2013 to 2018 before being lured back to BBC by Cricket.

What was your take on the cricket World Cup?

An amazing competition which showed the wide and unique cultural appeal of cricket to the fullest. Plus that finish!  It showed that cricket still has the ability to be in the national conversation and transcend.

After these amazing few months, where does Cricket go from here and how can it grow on the back of the coverage it’s had during this summer of success stories for the England team?

It’s the perfect platform to build for next year. Cricket needs to make itself as open and accessible as possible, and stay on the front foot! The summer has created stars and the sport must use them going forward to engage more youngsters.  It’s brilliant that the sport has a new TV deal which promises even more exposure but should also be weary that there is an international football tournament and the olympics next summer.  Cricket needs to continue to innovate and be braver than other sports. In many ways Ben Stokes innings at Headingley is the perfect metaphor. It was played in the most traditional format and was the classic understated test innings to begin with but was bold and creative when that was needed. So cricket needs to stay true to itself but be the most innovative and creative of sports at the same time. It’s a real challenge.

Does the sport face any major problems in trying to grow and expand after this summer draws to a close?

The competition of other sports, as stated above and conservatism.  Plus the problems of trying to engage younger audiences  in our gaming world remains.  Cricket still has an image problem despite what happened this summer.  It needs to be bold enough to change that image and fight for attention on modern media platforms.

After that amazing end on Sunday, are you fancying England to win the Ashes and complete the perfect summer?

Yes! I’m a big believer in momentum in sport. The manner of that defeat will hurt Australia more than the actual defeat itself. These are two evenly matched teams so that psychological advantage could be the decisive factor (but this event is after Old Trafford!)

The next Digital Sport London event will take place at Lord’s Cricket Ground on Monday 9th September. The panel includes, Owen Hughes – Senior Manager and Head of Global Sponsorship at Nissan, Andy Muggleton – Assistant Secretary at Marylebone Cricket Club and Lord’s, Fiona Staines – Head of Digital at the ECB, Stephen Lyle – Lead Executive at the BBC and Chris Hurst – ex BBC & ICC.

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