Thursday, May 17, 2012

Welcome back to Test Match Special: the sweet music of men talking absolute balls

I've been working at home today, intermittently listening to Test Match Special's coverage of the first England-West Indies Test from Lord's. I don't have to turn it on to keep up with the score. Twitter will do that. Like many others I put it on for the company and conversation.

One of the first things I heard this morning was the Wodehouse tones of Henry Blofeld describing the Warner Stand as being "brimmers"; then we had Viv Richards musing, in his Antiguan burr, on the challenges of being "aksed" to bat first. The TMS team has the vocal blend of a great gospel quartet.

The Barbadian commentator Tony Cozier and Geoff Boycott didn't blink as they ran through the line-ups who contested the same series in 1953. Blofeld casually mentioned Cassius Clay, the name Ali discarded in 1964. TMS is the only corner of the BBC that doesn't feel it has to apologise for not being youthful. Even Phil Tufnell, who is young by the standards of the team, referred to another commentator as looking "a Bobby Dazzler".

Retired sportsmen never seem to forget a single game or team mate. Cricketers play for longer and can call on a richer storehouse of memories. I don't know who Jonathan Agnew was talking about but I heard him say:

He turned up the next day and said sorry and gave him a box of eggs. Not even chocolates. Eggs. We used to call him Crime. You know, crime never pays.

The beauty of that is that it really doesn't matter who he's talking about. By the same token it doesn't matter what's going on in the match as long as those men in the TMS box can sustain their gently rippling stream of speculation, analysis, reminiscence and banter. It's a joy. Long may it continue.


  1. David Steele, Northants. Noted for alleged intermittent rounds purchase in the bar, hence the nickname 'crime'. Never pays.

  2. In a similar vein, we went to see Martin Taylor and Alan Barnes play a sublime set the other night in York. Their banter is not dissimilar to the TMS lags; I guess cricketers and jazz musicians share many traits. Taylor tells a story about the pub just 'round the corner from The 100 Club. Not its given moniker, but it was known as The Glue Pot - you could never get the musicians out.

  3. In a similar vein, I tried to watch the Diamond Jubilee Armed Forces parade on BBC today. I commented aloud that, if this was being broadcast on radio, you could understand the need for incessant commentary; however, given this is a TV programme with a strong visual element then "surely" there is little need for words? Futile hope, I know.