ESPN STAR Sports has announced the launch of a cricket-only channel, which will be available in the Indian sub-continent from this summer.

The channel has been christened STAR Cricket and will begin broadcasting in June.

Speaking on the occasion, ESPN Software India managing director RC Venkateish said, “ESPN Star Sports has recently acquired the rights to many major sports properties including the biggest cricket property in the world, the ICC global telecast rights. The two channels that we have are already brimming with high quality content. Going forward, we intend to further strengthen our content line up both in cricket and other sports, which we will showcase on our networks. The launch of STAR Cricket is part of our long term strategy to further strengthen our offering to the sports fans in the country.

STAR Cricket will showcase live India and non India cricket for the passionate Indian cricket fan. We plan to add quality first class cricket coverage from around the globe as well. The channel will also showcase feature programming on cricket including reality shows, archival programming and magazine shows.”

Harsha Bhogle, renowned cricket commentator and fellow member of the ‘Few Good Men’ on ESPN STAR Sports, said, “I believe Star Cricket will be everything a cricket channel should be with a combination of live cricket and specially produced programming. I hope a real cricket lover will feel he is at home with Star Cricket for he will get to see more than international cricket. When I was young, we could hardly follow games unless the newspaper published the scorecards; then the internet arrived but this will give people an opportunity to see and form their own opinion. I would like to believe we will present cricket with a conscience.”

With the ICC telecast rights for the next eight years and rights from Test-playing nations like England and Australia, the ESPN STAR Sports network is looking at a total of 24 Test matches and 42 One Day internationals in 2007 alone. In addition, ESPN STAR Sports will also showcase the ICC Twenty20 World Cup later this year featuring 27 matches.

STAR Cricket will be the 15th network launched by ESPN STAR Sports in the Asia Pacific region.