Monday, 30 August 2010

Test Match Special - an appreciation

I’m not a cricket fan – I can’t tell a silly mid off from a serious one - but one of my biggest guilty pleasures is listening to Test Match Special on the radio. If I’m home, it's on all day - and for five days if the game lasts that long.
Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (long wave) and in digital on Five Live Sports Extra, it is the aural equivalent of comfort food.
Like the sport itself there is something gloriously ridiculous about the programme, which is quintessentially English. Just as there is probably no other sporting contest which can last the best part of a week and still end in a draw, there can be few sports shows in which the game can often take second best to reminiscences, cake tastings, and other diversions.
The accents of Aggers (Jonathan Agnew), Blowers (Henry Blofeld) and CMJ (Christopher Martin-Jenkins) though not Tuffers (Phil Tuffnel) are public school, the good humour is international.
Not that there was much to laugh about yesterday in the wake of the News of the World’s allegations that some Pakistan players were involved in spot-fixing in the match just lost to England. It should bury the expression for unacceptable conduct “It’s not cricket” forever.
This is when you call for Geoffrey Boycott, who is never better while despairing at an England collapse – or, as yesterday, railing at the greed in his sport as exemplified by the spread of Twenty20.
I'm reminded by this Wikipedia link how good the lunch break interviews can be. Aggers and Lily Allen last year was a particular delight.
The occasion the late Brian Johnston got the giggles on TMS with Aggers “leg over” observation is rightly famous. But I would like to hear again the late John Arlott’s masterly time-filling description when rain had stopped play and he painted word pictures of the puddles on the covers.
England would be safer if the ravens quit the Tower of London rather than Test Match Special disappear from the airwaves.

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