Thursday, May 17, 2007

Test Match Special at 50

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of ball-by-ball test commentary on the BBC. Cricinfo marks the occasion with an article on Test Match Special by Martin Williamson.

I think he gets it right when he says:
The hey-day of TMS was possibly the 1970s when John Arlott and Brian Johnston were at their best and transmissions continued even when there was no play. Indeed, many preferred those spells of inactivity as the team chatted and joked without interruption.
There was a period in the late 1980s when the programme was dominated by an axis of disgruntled Northerners - Fred Trueman, Don Mosey and Colin Milburn - who made it hard to listen to. Nothing was ever what it was in their day.

Though Brian Johnston died a national treasure and did seem in an exceptionally happy mood in his last few summers, he could be Blimpish and sometimes made the commentary box sound like the staff room of an undistinguished private school.

Today it is impossible to dislike Henry Blofeld, though one wishes that Christopher Martin-Jenkins could get a player's name right just occasionally. The programme still misses the astringency of Trevor Bailey and too many of the ex-players and sports reporters tend towards blandness: Vic Marks stands out as a character amongst them.

Cricinfo has also nominated its XI of the best commentators and rightly gives the incomparable John Arlott pride of place.

1 comment:

Tristan said...

Sadly I'm far too young to have been around when John Arlott was around, but with Blofeld and Aggers you sometimes still get the good banter when play isn't happening.

Which reminds me I should start listening to the current test match...