A day in the life of Test Match Special

While working during the week, BBC Radio’s Test Match Special is the only source of my cricket coverage between Mondays and Fridays, and as a lifelong cricket fan, I believe TMS is a national institution and should be preserved by any means in it’s current, or very similar format.

Yes, it can sound stuffy and a bit stuck in the past at times, but in my view it is a major part of the history and heritage of cricket in this country. It also plays an important role in promoting cricket to people of whom it is their only source of following a test match, like it is to me during the week.

Day 1 of the 2nd test against Bangladesh was no different for me, at around 10.50 I switched the radio over for the start of the coverage to hear Jonathon Agnew and Vic Marks disputing the England selectors policy of playing 6 batsmen.

Marks was totally of the view that come the start of the Ashes, England will be rightly (his view, not mine) playing six batsmen. Agnew on the other hand (and not surprisingly for a former seamer) thought the selectors had got it wrong with only the four bowlers, and that with back-to-back tests down under England should be playing with the five bowlers now so the team are ready to use this stratergy in Australia.

As the morning progressed summarizers Vic Marks and Phil Tufnell had differing, unflattering views on the newly built conference facilities called The Point, with Tufnell claiming it looks like a car show room, and Marks likening it to a microwave oven.

Who’s brainwave was it to make it red as well?

The lunch time guest was the great West Indian former fast bowler Michael Holding, who popped in for a chat and to promote his new book. Sometimes I find the topics covered at lunch can be far more entertaining than the cricket coverage itself, and today was no different.

On the whole the guests are fairly decent, usually being made up from a mix of cricket legends, or cricket administrators trying to justify their actions. Another thing I like, is that over the course of an English summer you get impromptu visits to the commentary box by the likes of Rory Bremner and Stephen Fry etc, adding some humour to procedings.

After lunch, scorer Malcolm Ashton and Aggers chewed the fat over how to return Lily Allen’s plate back to her, after she presented them with a cake during the Lord’s test match. A touch tedious at times, but I suppose it is what makes TMS what it is.

The three main commentators for this particular match are Agnew, Simon Mann and Henry Blofeld. Backed up by Vic Marks, Geoff Boycott and Phil Tufnell, doing the summarizing.

There seems to have been a bit of a push to freshen up the summarizers spot recently with the recruitment of Tufnell, and former England captain Michael Vaughan is now also a regular in that spot.

Also after the best part of a year away it was refreshing to hear the extravagant commentary of Henry Blofeld back for this test, he sure beats listening to the rather stiff CMJ.

I get the feeling someone in the BBC hierarchy decided to use Blowers for the Old Trafford test, knowing full well there would be buses, trains and trams galore for him to muse over.

The mix of young and old seems to be a lot better now, the days of grey, stuffy old men seems to be gradually getting phased out (apart from Christopher Martin-Jenkins, I’m no fan in case you hadn’t guessed). Getting the balance right between the two is important, and at the moment I feel they are heading in the right direction.

You feel like you are listening to people having a good old yarn about a sport they really enjoy, rather than just listening to someone trying to describe what is happening out on the pitch.

All this just adds to the feel that TMS is just one big happy cricketing family, and long may that continue.

2 thoughts on “A day in the life of Test Match Special

  1. A nice summing-up of the many qualities of TMS, Dean, even if my views on at least two of the commentators differ from you (I like CMJ but can’t stand Blofeld).

    Today’s ‘View from the Boundary’ was truly exceptional.

  2. I understand that CMJ has played a massive role in cricket journalism for donkeys years now, and I don’t underestimate the man, or what he has achieved.

    ie, President of MCC, first journalist to be invited to give the MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture (think MCC must rate him anyway), he’s just one of those commentators that gets under my skin for no apparent reason.

    Prefer his contributions in the written press, although I suppose over the years I have found some of his articles looking more like they are written for an Oxford graduate, rather than the average cricket man (although that could be more due to my lack of intelligence).

    As for Blowers, I find his confusion entertaining rather than the (lack of) quality of his commentary.

    Sometimes in the past I’ve heard him getting players mixed up that are fielding that aren’t even the same colour.

    Don’t think Blowers came out of Duncan Fletcher’s autobiography with any credit either, can well understand people finding him to have behaved in a less than respectable manner.

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