Sambit Bal on Test Match Special

Pretty cool moment for us today when Sambit Bal, our editor, was invited onto Test Match Special during the tea interval of the 2nd Test at Trent Bridge. Jonathan Agnew knows and likes Cricinfo, but it was nevertheless oddly exciting to hear him be so amazed at how Sambit (and us) manage to produce a site of such breadth and depth. Anyway, it might be online if you fancy a listen – check TMS’s site.

Test Match Special at 50

Is it not time for more female voices on TMS? “I hoped Claire Connor might be the one, but I don’t worry too much about not having a female,” said Baxter.

“The audience have to be comfortable with the commentators and most female voices need to be pitched a bit lower. You need an alto, not a soprano. Clare Balding has a perfect voice for radio.” And what advice would he have for his successor?

“I hope he (Baxter presumes it will be a man) doesn’t lose sight of the fact the commentary is the main thing,” he said.

So says Peter Baxter, Test Match Special’s producer since time began. Interesting comments, and not something I’d ever considered. Personally, I find Balding’s voice almost indistinguishable from a man’s. Indeed, listening to her and Willie Carson speaking, it’s difficult to determine who exactly wears the trousers. So to speak.

Anyway, well done TMS. I don’t listen to it these days as we’re glued to the screen, for obvious reasons, but it remains the best of British. But for how long? With Baxter hanging up his microphone, he sounds an ominous warning note to his successor

“Five Live have people who are in charge of things called “station sound” and that rings a few alarm bells. The whole point of TMS is that it doesn’t sound like other commentaries.”

Station sound? I shudder at the thought. There’s every chance that some shallow-sighted media freaks could ruin a British institution, turning it into a brash (and by proxy, dull) service. Come on BBC: leave it alone. Change is not always for the best. There will be quite a few TMS pieces on Cricinfo tomorrow and over the week, starting with Andrew Miller’s interview with Baxter, so keep your mince pies peeled.

Who were your favourite commentators? What do you make of the current crop? Favourite TMS moment? etc. Not that I listen nearly as much as I’d like, but I think Mike Selvey is particularly brilliant and works well with Vic Marks.

Petition to enable ex-pats access to BBC overseas

Crafty Leak writes:

It is SHOCKING that the BBC (and I guess ABC in Australia) do not allow an “international” tournament (with half empty cricket grounds!) to be broadcast on-line “outside the UK”! Do they want to help cricket grow as a sport or not?

So what if you are a UK TV license fee payer who lives abroad? You pay for the BBC, then they deny you rights to their services because you are outside the UK – IT’S DAYLIGHT ROBBERY!

There is a campaign on the 10 Downing Street website to allow non-UK users access to BBC services:

Check it out and SIGN it! All it involves is entering your passport number – simple really, as the technology is there!

Worth signing. I have friends overseas who are continually frustrated by the lack of access to TMS while still holding their UK passport. I don’t doubt it’s technically possible, but there is no doubt a whole mile-long length of red tape to go through first. So…sign up.

Get in the mood for the first Test

What better way (for an Englishman at least) to get in the mood for Wednesday night than to listen to the BBC cricket theme tune, Booker T and the MG’s Soul Limbo. Listen, loop, and enjoy.

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.

Where will you follow the Ashes from?

Was just talking to Neil, a big cricket fan based in the USA, about following the game from the Americas (short post on his club coming shortly)…and it got me thinking about this year’s Ashes. At Cricinfo we’re gearing up for the late nights, and are utterly up for the entire series. It’s going to be epic – not only the cricket, but covering it on the desk. But what about you ‘orrible lot? Are you, like Neil, in foreign climes all crowded around a scratchy television (or more likely nowadays in front of the computer…at we hope!)?

Neil’s even having a party on the eve of the first Test at an Australian pub near where he lives. It’s a pretty awesome thought, imagining thousands of people all around the world trying to find out the score. Stuck up mountains with Test Match Special glued to their ears; running out of bars to get reception on their phones. Will you be one of the tragic foreign followers and if so, how will you be following the game? Or will you be under the duvet, radio barely audible so as not to wake the missus (until the fall of a wicket when all hell will break loose)?


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).

Bearders: My Life in Cricket

Bearders: My Life In Cricket
As mentioned the other day, I have been reading and reviewing Bill Frindall’s autobiography, Bearders: My Life In Cricket. I wasn’t looking forward to it but much to my surprise, it was an interesting book. It’s not to everyone’s taste, of course, but it revealed a different side to his voice on air with Test Match Special (where he can seem a trifle pissed off with life. And Henry Blofeld).

Worth a read. Full review at Cricinfo.

Bill Frindall’s autobiography

Bearders: My Life In Cricket
I’m reviewing Bill Frindall’s autobiography – Bearders: My Life In Cricket – which, I’ll be perfectly honest, hasn’t filled me with wonder and awe. However, in the dozen or so pages I flicked through last night (he has chapters on most of his colleagues over the years: John Arlott, Jonathan Agnew, Vic Marks, Brian Johnston – all that lot) it could be quite entertaining. I’m just a bit worried that the statistical stuff might get in the way.

We’ll see. He’s the editor of the long-running (and firm favourite of mine) Playfair Cricket Annual, and has been Test Match Special’s scorer seemingly for ever.