“You’ve got a blank canvas and it’s how you fill it in”. That’s how Alex Mason summed up the task he’s faced in helping to bring live coverage of the world’s most popular Twenty20 cricket tournament to domestic TV screens.

Raised in North Harrow, Alex is one of Sky Sports’ two producers for the Indian Premier League (IPL). The broadcaster’s first season of covering some of the biggest names in world cricket in arguably the most spectacular format of the sport concludes on Sunday when the IPL final takes place in Kolkata. But the former Whitmore High School and Harrow Weald College student is already looking ahead.

The Harrow Times was invited to take a behind the scenes look as one of the IPL shows went on air and during the visit Alex reflected on some of the challenges that have been encountered and how he hopes Sky’s coverage of the tournament can evolve in the future.

A one company man since he started with the broadcaster in 1998, Alex has progressed up the cricket departmental ladder, formerly working on their Test match coverage before the IPL opportunity arose when Sky was awarded the rights.

Explaining how the roles broadly differ, Alex said: “Working in production you come up with a concept and you work with other people to realise that concept. So I come up with an idea or I find the music and pictures and I go into an edit suite and work with an editor and between us we realise the idea. It’s quite a lengthy process but that’s something I really enjoyed, going into edit, coming up with an idea and one month later it’s a series on Sky Sports.

“But that’s changed now. Live sport producing is slightly different. You know how long the match is going to be and then you figure out what you’re going to do in the half-hour build-up, what you’re going to talk about at lunchtime and how you’re going to get off air at the end of the day.”

If two words summarise Alex’s role, they are facilitate and structure: ensuring everyone involved in a broadcast knows when they’re required and what they're needed to do and then deciding what format the broadcast will take and the ‘headlines’ that need including, hence his reference to a “blank canvas ”.

During the visit I also spoke to presenter Matt Floyd and former England player Dominic Cork, who was one of the studio guests that day alongside Australian star Marcus North. But it was Sky’s decision to send another ex-England cricketer, Mark Butcher, a producer and a cameraman out for the tournament to work with the eight franchise teams and “give us a real flavour of what’s happening in India” that Alex felt has brought an added dimension to Sky’s coverage and gives them a platform to build from.

Alex was “very happy” with how the tournament had gone when we met and he explained: “For us to differentiate ourselves from the way ITV covered it, the crew in India is key and out there it’s all about them getting access.

“For the first time out, the guys have done really well to go in a little bit cold, introduce themselves and we think next year if we do a similar thing with a similar crew, hopefully the doors will be open a little bit wider, they know that we’ll be going over there, they know that we’ll have a presence over there, the IPL will think ‘well, we want to grow the brand in the UK so the more access we give the crew that is coming over from Sky, the better it will be in the UK’.

“We’re kind of learning on our feet a little bit this year, we’ll review it all at the end of the tournament and then we’ll think ok, well next year we want to push it a little bit harder, we want more access, we want to get to (Indian captain) Mahendra Singh Dhoni, we want to get to the Indian superstars who we may not get. By all accounts it’s very hard to get anywhere near the Indian superstars even if you’re a host broadcaster in India, so for us to get them would be amazing.”

Pivotal to this being achieved is Butcher himself as Mason explained: “It’s good that him being out there seems to have opened a lot of doors because lots of people know him. Lots of people respect him and once he’s out there and says ‘I’m working for Sky, can you spare five minutes after training?’ people were very much ‘It’s not a problem’. Whereas for myself or Bryan Henderson, the executive producer, emailing the media manager of the (Kolkata) Knight Riders, they came back and they were very positive but it’s a lot easier when Butch is on the ground and meeting people face to face.”