Tufnell and Gooch at Adelaide

Good shot of Phil Tufnell and Graham Gooch commentating for the BBC in Adelaide

The Holy Trinity

Test Match Special.

Pig ‘n Whistle pub, Brisbane

The BBC’s Test Match Special are out in force (and en masse) in Brisbane and, perhaps for the first time in its history, are sharing photos to the world which, for a photo geek like me, is splendorama. I think it’s Arlo White who is armed with the necessary – so keep an eye on their Flickr page.

Pig 'n Whistle pub, Brisbane

Test Match Special.

Mark Rumbakash

I should get a job with The Sun. I’m that good. If you haven’t deciphered my witty headline, then be reminded that Mark Ramprakash – former England cricketer, current Surrey bowling destroyer – is appearing on Strictly Come Dancing this evening. As the bloke who runs a site of the similar name to this blog often says, HOW GOOD IS THAT? Well Andy – and Mark – not very good, frankly. But it should be entertaining at least.

But enough of that, here’s a photo from sunny Salcombe

Looking out across The Bar

BBC claw back lost ground

So, the BBC are going to broadcast highlights of the Ashes this winter – an interesting development as it appears to have come from nowhere. Sky, who were awarded the rights from the ECB almost exactly 12 months ago (earning the English board a reported £200m) – a decision which caused the ECB to hide under the table, with just their greens for comfort in the Anderson shelter. The doodle-bug passed by, though.

Initially I was angry at the ECB – angry at Sky, too. But it’s not Sky’s fault they have the money to beat off the competition; it’s also the apathy, or disinterest of certain other broadcasters, which ended free-to-air cricket. I wonder now if the BBC are starting to regret it.

At the BBC’s Sports Editor’s blog, the director of BBC Sport, Roger Mosey says:

Now, before anyone says it: yes, we’re talking today about highlights and not live cricket on TV. The question of live cricket returning to the BBC is something we’re keeping under review for the future when the contracts next become available.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but “…something we’re keeping under review for the future” is either a typo or suggests the Beeb are almost certainly going to bid for the rights in 2009. When I first read it, I thought Roger said “keeping under wraps” and it still smacks of that.

A criticism, though. With the greatest respect and understanding of the arduous task a TV scheduler must have, the decision to air the highlights a mere couple of hours before the next day’s play is ridiculous. It’s almost not worth having them at all. If I was just a fan and not writing about the game, I’d still sign up to Sky in spite of the BBC’s highlights gesture.

I remain a fan of the Beeb though. Their website is outstanding; they’ve grasped Web 2.0 and are breaking new ground each year. It’s just a shame that they spend more money on makeover shows like What Donkeys Shouldn’t Wear At Christmas rather than what the public really want: live sport.

Anyway, it’s very much a moot point and outdated too. Sky have it, so get over it. They’re ploughing a lot of money into the English game, too.

Apologies to Warwickshire residents

If you were driving home at about 17.50 on Tuesday and were tuned to BBC Radio Warwickshire, then my apologies for the inane, caustic screeching coming from your speakers. It was me. Fortunately for all involved, my second foray into radio interviews was a marked improvement on the first waffling attempt – but I still wheeled out the cliches (worryingly, without realising). Thanks to Stew and Jo for sorting it out – it was good fun.

The presenter, Jo, was a bit downbeat about England’s chances in the Ashes and I surprised myself by forcefully disagreeing. It made me realise that while England have had a difficult, testing year, it’s far from doom and gloom. A lot rests on Harmison, Hoggard, Flintoff and the opening batsmen – but what’s new? They pulled it off last year, so to speak, and could pull it off again this year.

Might as well end this with one of Alec Stewart’s finest cliches: whoever plays the best cricket on the day will win. Talking of Stewart…

Mark Ramprakash to appear on Strictly Come Dancing

Oh dear God. As if 17,000 runs in a season isn’t enough to persuade David Graveney to select him (and it isn’t) it was confirmed today that Mark Ramprakash is to appear in the next series of Strictly Come Dancing. Didn’t he learn from Darren Gough?

Maybe Bruce Forsyth is a mole for the England selectors; perhaps they have Ramprakash on standby but are unconvinced by his feet movement…

Update: interview with Ramps at Cricinfo.

Soul Limbo for the Ashes

Everyone’s missed the point about today’s news that the BBC will be airing highlights of this winter’s Ashes. Great, the population will be able to watch England reclaim the Ashes; they’ll gasp at Flintoff’s 322* from only 120 balls; a procession of anorak’d cricket tragics, with wonky glasses and a chewed HB pencil for company, will weep at the foot of the stairs of Television Centre, grateful to the Aunty for welcoming back cricket.

All of this is true.

But the real news, the aspect of most importance is we will once again hear the sound of Soul Limbo by Booker T and The MGs bink-tink-tinking over the airwaves. And for that, we should join the anoraks and raise a glass to Aunty because that tune, quite simply, is summer. Even though it’ll be winter, but you get my meaning.

Thanks to the Beeb

Thanks to Chris and Jo at BBC Radio Five Live for conducting my first radio interview. Not nearly as frightening as I expected. I want more now! Well…sort of. Next time, hopefully I won’t sound such a pillock.

Rediscovering Test Match Special

At work we obviously have to watch every ball, not simply listen to it. And down here in Devon, without Sky for some reason, I’ve just turned on the radio for the past hour which has brought memories back of listening to TMS in my youth. It really is a brilliant way of following a Test. You miss the pictures of course, but somehow feel even closer to the action.

One thing I can’t work out is who the heavy-breather is. It’s not Boycott or Agnew…anyone else hear it?

Here’s Salcombe this afternoon where I’ve been supping pints overlooking the sea


Competition from the BBC

Well, I suppose it was inevitable. TMS have finally broken into the 21st century with their first blog. Doubt they even read this one but, whatever…well done them. Let’s see if they can keep it regularly updated though.

I was being churlish when I wrote the title, of course. You can’t compete with eachother on blogs; they are personal and characterised by the writers. Some people will like them, and your style, and some won’t. BBC have one rather large thing in their favour in that a) they have a bit more money than me and b) employ half the western hemisphere. Anyway, rock on. If any of the BBC chaps are reading, drop me a note – I’d be interested to talk.

If you must leave here, to go there, then click here (if that makes sense).