BBC BLOGS - Adam Mountford
« Previous | Main | Next »

Under the duvet with TMS for the Ashes

Post categories:

Adam Mountford | 20:12 UK time, Saturday, 23 October 2010

There is something magical about following an Ashes series down under on the radio.

I remember as a 10-year-old sneaking my portable under the duvet cover to hear the dramatic conclusion to the 1982/83 Melbourne Test.

Henry Blofeld described the moment when Jeff Thomson edged Ian Botham into the slips: "He's dropped it, no he's out... he's caught in the slips. Tavare knocked it up and it was Miller who caught the rebound. England have won by three runs. Poor Thomson and Border walk back, utterly dejected."

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.

Then in 1986/87, I recall turning up at school bleary-eyed after staying up to follow the heroics of the likes of Chris Broad, Jack Richards, Phil DeFreitas and Botham again.

It was the Melbourne Test which stood out again that year for me. As a cricket-obsessed 14-year-old, the anticipation of presents on Christmas Day was nothing compared to excitement of being allowed to stay up to hear the start of the Boxing Day Test at midnight. I remember being gripped as a half-fit Botham and last minute replacement Gladstone Small bowled Australia out to help secure the Ashes.

Mike Gatting, Ian Botham and Phil DeFreitas celebrate after winning the first 1986/87 Ashes Test at Brisbane

No England captain since Gatting has brought back the Ashes from Australia. Picture: Getty Images

It's amazing to think that 23 years later we are still waiting for England to win in Australia again - but many believe that this winter presents perhaps England's best chance of a win down under since those heady days when Mike Gatting led his team to Ashes success.

I am delighted to confirm that Test Match Special will be bringing you all the drama with ball-by-ball commentary, starting with the first Test in Brisbane on 25 November.

Jonathan Agnew will be leading our team throughout the Ashes series and will be heading to Australia shortly to bring you all the latest news from England's warm-up matches which start in Perth on 5 November.

Joining Aggers in the TMS box will be Christopher Martin-Jenkins and Simon Mann, with ABC radio's Jim Maxwell again providing the Australian perspective. We will also have "The Analyst" with us in Australia as Simon Hughes again joins the BBC cricket team.

Our expert summarisers include Michael Vaughan, who will always be remembered as the captain who ended 18 years of hurt when he led England to that thrilling Ashes success in 2005. But Vaughan also has fond memories as a player in Australia after his amazing series in 2002/03 when he scored 633 runs, including three centuries, becoming the number-one ranked batsman in the world.

Geoff Boycott will also be with us in Australia and he too has a fantastic Ashes pedigree. Boycott played 38 Tests against Australia and was part of several Ashes-winning sides both in England and down under.

His first Test century came during an Ashes series back in 1964 and of course perhaps Boycott's greatest moment came in a match against the old enemy famously scoring his 100th hundred in an Ashes Test on his home ground.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.

And TMS favourite Vic Marks will also be with us in Australia. The last time England won the Ashes down under, Vic was actually in Australia enjoying a very successful time as an overseas pro playing for Western Australia, helping them to win the Sheffield Shield. Vic will be on hand to provide his normal dose of wit and wisdom.

We will also have two Australian summarisers joining us during the series. Former Aussie captain and TMS regular Ian Chappell will be with us in Adelaide and Melbourne, while I am also delighted to say that former Australia opening batsman turned broadcaster Michael Slater will be with us in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney.

Slats has also enjoyed plenty of great Ashes moments. Who could forget the extravagant celebration which greeted his first Test century at Lords back in 1993, one of seven Ashes hundreds he scored. And it was Slater who set the tone back in 1994/95, famously striking the first ball of the series from Phil DeFreitas for four on his way to a blistering 176. Since retiring as a player Slater has become a highly successful cricket commentator working for Channel 4 in England and for Channel 9 in Australia.

Throughout the Ashes series, TMS will be on air every day half-an-hour before play begins to bring you the very best build-up. And don't panic if you can't be with us throughout the night - following each days play, BBC 5 live sports extra will broadcast the day's highlights, interviews and a comprehensive review of the action with Aggers and Geoff Boycott which will also be available as a daily podcast.

As you would expect, BBC Radio 5 live will also have comprehensive coverage of the Ashes with updates every 15 minutes, while Mark Pougatch will present an Ashes breakfast programme live from Australia throughout the series. Mark will bring you all the best reaction to each day's play and will be joined by the likes of Alec Stewart, Mark Butcher and Michael Vaughan.

You will also be able to relive each full day's TMS coverage via the BBC iPlayer.
And make sure you tune into 5 live Sport each day to look back and look forward including some special Ashes editions of the Phil Tufnell Cricket Show - while 5 live Sport is getting into the Ashes mood as early as Thursday, 28 October looking at "Great Ashes Characters" with guests including Allan Lamb, Rodney Hogg, Derek Randall and Merv Hughes, and will have a full Ashes preview as part of the programme on 16 November.

If you can't wait for any of those special programmes for your taste of Ashes fever, then I urge you to check out the outstanding TMS Ashes Archive - all the details can be found at

Plus, the BBC Sport website will of course offer the very best online Ashes coverage on the web including live text commentary, blogs, Jonathan Agnew's regular columns and behind-the-scenes photographs, whilst you should also check out for the musings of Aggers, Michael Vaughan, Simon Mann and others.

It promises to be an absolutely thrilling next two months or so... I just hope we can provide some more magical Ashes moments as you sneak your radios under the duvet cover this winter.


  • Comment number 1.

    So, the usual team then....

  • Comment number 2.

    Its a pity that you are still using Simon Mann. The most boring person to ever commentate on Cricket. Arlo White would have been my prefered choice.

  • Comment number 3.

    Will coverage be available to those listeners outside of the UK?

  • Comment number 4.

    Arlo White now works out in the USA commentating on the Seattle Sounders MLS Team. Follow him on Twitter: @arlowhite

    Any news on TV highlights like last time, or are Sky keeping it all to themselves?

  • Comment number 5.

    Adam, good appetite-whetting article, thanks. However I can't tell from this whether I will be able to listen to TMS online whilst abroad? Just realised I may not be able to listen to the start of the MCG Test as I have foolishly agreed to go to Lanzarote for Christmas. If not, not sure if 'need to listen to TMS' counts as a legitimate holiday insurance cancellation claim, or if Mrs B R will understand either?

  • Comment number 6.

    I always listen to the first ball of every ashes on TMS. I listen to the first ball in 2006 at just after midnight and then couldn't sleep...

  • Comment number 7.

    Sounds really good, I can't wait!

  • Comment number 8.

    Here's a third person asking (not optimistically) if radio commentary will be available outside UK - Spain, actually.

  • Comment number 9.

    Shame No Henry Blofeld.. all the style has gone..

  • Comment number 10.

    We expect excellent commentary from TMS for the Ashes this year.
    Excellent TMS lineup

    What is the latest news on the tv highlights deal?

    It will be a massive loss if there is no highlights for the ashes on freeview tv.

  • Comment number 11.

    Really looking forward to this series and glad to see that Phil Tufnell is not involved with TMS.

  • Comment number 12.

    Michael Vaughan is so boring, I won't be able to stay awake with him beating his gums.

  • Comment number 13.

    Good team, at least we will get the correct score, ther correct players and correct teams if there is no Blowers.

  • Comment number 14.

    No Tuffers on TMS? That is a shame. Despite his jovial style he does actually provide rather insightful analysis of the game situation.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    Im sure it was confirmed a month or so back, that there would be no highlights on freeview, as no one wanted it, and it would have had to be in a 'main' slot, between 6pm and 8pm i think. Still i have sky so i dont care!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Btw i agree Simon Mann is awful, and blowers is comedy gold, shame.

  • Comment number 17.

  • Comment number 18.

    Re my comment at #15 - good to see the BBC Goebbels style net Police at work, removing harmless comments that hints at the minorest of criticism of any one or anything. I pay my licence fee for this?!?! Absolutely ridiculous and a disgrace!

  • Comment number 19.

    Loved the article, to me it is like being a kid at Christmas, except four years ago instead of some lovely pressies we found out that Santa was rubbish at his job and we were in for 2 months of agony!

    I have Sky now after suffering for a few years without being able to watch live cricket, but TMS remains the place to be following any major series, I really hope this tour brings out some more Ashes heroes, for all its worth I believe we need to forget about the long era of Aussie dominance and the wonders of 2005 and enjoy a new chapter.

  • Comment number 20.

    It is absolutely disgusting if no terrestrial channel will show highlights, even at 10 at night for the half of the nation unable or unwilling to pay Sky hundreds of pounds... those that make decisions like that should hang their heads in shame. BBC and public service/national interest?!?... sheesh, if they want to keep the goodwill of the people they have a funny way of going about it!

  • Comment number 21.

    Well I LIKE Simon Mann. I suppose that's the beauty of TMS, someone for everyone. Also looking forward to hearing Michael Slater and my favourite, Vic Marks.

    Agree with No. 20 about the TV highlights, surely an organisation that devotes so much broadcast time and money to Wimbledon and Formula One can find funding and space in its schedules for one of the great international sporting spectacles.

  • Comment number 22.

    Oh yes, and I hope that Alison Mitchell plays a part - she's a fun broadcaster and seems to operate well with the existing and ex pros.

  • Comment number 23.

    Im not sure I know anyone that likes the new sold out to the media Vaughan - no doubt there will be some pointless controversial statements from him

    Why no Tufnell - Visa problems?? hehehe

  • Comment number 24.

    Dont mind Simon Mann, but how does Ian Chappell still get work ? - he is without doubt the most obnoxious bigotted person on the planet - a disgusting individual. Even worse than Boycs.

  • Comment number 25.

    > Its a pity that you are still using Simon Mann. The most boring person to ever commentate on Cricket. Arlo White would have been my prefered choice.

    Arlo White sounds like he works for B&Q. I'm sure he is a nice bloke, but rarely places events into the larger context of the game, and tends to use cheery Five Live blokeyness as a smokescreen for this lack of insight. Mann not only articulates the nuances of the game with more assurance, he gives the impression of being very astute, and former guest cricketers usually agree with his interpretation. I am delighted that TMS has made this decision

  • Comment number 26.

    The Ashes will be exciting. It will keep die-hard fans riveted to their tele. And then it will be on to the Asia World Cup.

    I hear that for the 2015 WC, there will be only 10 teams (down from 14) competing. That is a regressive step, in my view. It will badly hurt the Associate nations who are trying to elevate their cricket and who are hoping to make inroads to the top.

    I trust the ICC reconsiders any such move.
    That said, England are my pick to win both the Ashes and the WC.

  • Comment number 27.

    Another cry from abroad. Will the TMS commentary be on-line. Adam, this the fourth time you've been asked this. a) do you read the responses to your blogs ? or b) do you care? or c) do you know the answer?

  • Comment number 28.

    For the fifth time! Will TMS online commentary be available for us poor refugees stranded outside of the UK?
    That aside, you forgot Tuffers when you put your team together.

  • Comment number 29.

    Many apologies for not getting back sooner. I was away from my computer yesterday. Unfortunately we have only been awarded UK wide internet rights for the Ashes. The rights team always attempt to secure world wide rights, but on this occasion this was not possible. I would like to apologise for the frustration I know this causes. One of the joys of my job is reading the e-mails throughout the summer from around the world and I wish it were possible to bring you our coverage all year long. What I can confirm is that again next year we will have world-wide internet commentary rights for all fixtures in the English summer. As for the Ashes, overseas listeners will of course be able to access the TMS Text Commentary and listen to Jonathan Agnew and Geoff Boycott's comprehensive review of the days play in the daily TMS Podcast as well as hearing interviews from the players.
    In answer to other queries.
    For Phil Tufnell fans - Tuffers is not going to Australia as he is involved in a "Question of Sport" live tour. But as I said he will be hosting some special Five Live Sport programmes and will be back in the Test Match Special team next summer. And in answer to coolbawn post 22 - Alison Mitchell is not part of our Ashes team but she will be involved in our coverage of the one day games which follow the Ashes and also next years world cup.
    Thanks for reading the blog and thanks for all your posts. In answer to John of Burgundy - yes I do read them and i do care !!!
    If you have any more queries let me know and I will try and answer them if I can.

  • Comment number 30.

    Great shame, but that's as I suspected Adam. Anyway don't give up on trying for future overseas tours. Presumably TMS will not only be on Sports Extra but also as ever on R4 LW through the night ? Being only a short distance over the water in Germany this will spare me totally sleepless nights trying to keep awake for the next text update. And there's always Cricinfo of course...

  • Comment number 31.

    Flippin 'eck! Do people really need to get this wound up and personal about TMS commentators? As someone above pointed out, there is something there for everyone. I would assume that the aim is for a nice balance of styles, ergo their styles are different, ergo no-one's going to like them all. Personally, I'll be glad that Blowers isn't around (much as I love him) but will miss Tuffers' excellent insight. Slats is a great addition as well.

    #23 - Most of my mates think that Vaughan has the makings of a great broadcaster. There is no controversy for the sake of it there, those who have followed his career pre-England will know that he has always been an opinionated so and so who isn't that bothered about rubbing people up the wrong way. The big difference between people like Vaughan, Boycs, Beefy et al and many other commentators is that they have the track record to back up their opinions. Personally, I think he's been a great addition to TMS.

  • Comment number 32.

    In answer to post 30. Yes Ashes commentary will as normal be on both Five Live Sports Extra and on Radio Four Long wave.

  • Comment number 33.

    I am pleased Vic Marks and Boyc's are making the TMS down-under trip.

    Plenty of 'swagger' from the opposition too .... our 'Antipodean Amigo's' Jim Maxwell and Ian Chappell are always a good listen.

    I can't wait for the oldest, and still the greatest sporting contest of them all to start - the England versus Australia Test Match series.

  • Comment number 34.

    Adam, I'm not surprised by the lack of worldwide rights - it's frustrated me for years but it begs a few questions which I hope you can answer...

    1) Who has the worldwide internet audio rights if not the BBC? Or the rights for Spain or the USA? (Surely not a Spanish or American equivalent of TMS?)

    2) If you don't know, then who can I ask? (Do you have a contact at the Australian Cricket Board?)

    3) Was the BBC denied the rights unconditionally? Or was there a price that the BBC considered too high? And if so, are we talking $10k, $100k, or $1 million?

    4) Depending on 3) - could all the expats donate to a fund that would buy the rights and transfer them to TMS? Of course it's a bit late to organize this for this year's Ashes.

    These issues drive me to despair - every overseas series. I reside in the US and there is never any cricket on the radio of course, nor is there any US company providing internet audio commentary. What do the cricket boards think they achieve by denying TMS a worldwide audience? Certainly they are not promoting the sport by doing this.

    regards and thanks for the great (home series) coverage.

  • Comment number 35.

    Cricket commentaries should be available to cricket fans all over the world; not just to the UK.

    It is an egregious mistake,or oversight, to exclude hundreds of millions of fans who do not live in the UK or Australia and who cannot travel Down Under to watch the games live!

    To the powers that be: Do something about it, if you care about the the game and the global fan!

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    If you want ball-by-ball commentary and can't get Test Match Special from outside the UK, try out Test Match Sofa. Best not though if you're under 18 or are sensitive to the odd bit of naughty language.

    In fact, I prefer to listen to The Sofa within the UK anyway.

  • Comment number 38.

    Oh well! Pausing only to salute DukeOfNelson (@34) for some pertinent questions, I guess that's it. - Live text under the duvet, huh?

  • Comment number 39.

    Oh we are nearly there now! To quote the Utah saints "I just know that something good is going to happen" Of course I felt like this 4 years ago even after Big Steve bowled the first ball straight to Freddy in the slips. Kind of worried about Swann having to fly home for the court verdict or something, or whether Jimmy Anderson can finaly bowl well on a flat one that does not swing! But Stu Broad's going to rattle em, KP's gonna come to the show and hit the four fastest tons in Test history, Trott's going to annoy the hell out of the Aussies and bat for days & days. El strauso Capitano will set the most inspired fields ever witnessed, Colly like Adelaide will find another double ton at least like the flat track bully he is. There will be camera shots of Gilchrist in the crowd shaking his head but applauding Matt Prior as he smashes the Kooky to all corners and various moments of glory for Cook, Bell / Morgan, Tremlet & Finn.

    This is gonna rock!!!!!!

  • Comment number 40.

    Thanks for this blog Adam, just what I have been waiting for!

    I'm really pleased to hear that Simon Mann will be involved although its a shame no Henry Blofeld. I'm also dissapointed that Geoff Lawson will not be used, I hope he will pop up at some lunch breaks and the like.

    Also great news that Alison Mitchell will be covering the one-dayers.

    My question for you Adam is will Malcom Ashton be part of the team down under?

  • Comment number 41.

    geoff lawson is ecxcellent but jim marshall is the best aussie commentator in any format for my money.

  • Comment number 42.

    Extremely excited about the Ashes. Is there any way that the BBC could re-broadcast the entire nights play the following day? So that those of us who can't access the iPlayer could listen to it, as if live, the following day, either on Radio4LW or 5LiveSportsExtra? It would be wonderful for those of us who can't stay up late and who are on the move so unable to listen again via the iPlayer.

  • Comment number 43.

    How absurd that we have no overseas internet access to TMS. I'll be listening to my old mate Dan Norcross and his team on Test Match Sofa and I recommend that option to all overseas cricket lovers (and UK for that matter).

  • Comment number 44.

    For those fellow oversea-ers, I've sometimes found a home country radio station online which had the live broadcast rights. Seem to remember that on one occasion this has been the TMS coverage anyway (either the recent NZ or SAF tour) so here's hoping Australia do likewise.

    Agree with the comment about why so much hatred and vitriol about certain journalists. Are you all psycho-jealous of a TMS commentator's life?

  • Comment number 45.


    I'm really looking forward to the TMS coverage, but am still pretty angry about the absence of TV highlights on the Beeb.

    I hear that 'scheduling issues' have been blamed for this, but why hasn't BBC Three been considered as a platform for the coverage? If it's good enough for F1, football and gymnastics, then why not cricket? I'm fully aware of the way the BBC feels towards Sky and the ECB at the moment, but differences really need to be set aside in the interest of fans on this one.

    There's still time!!


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.