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TMS gears up for the summer

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Adam Mountford | 13:37 UK time, Monday, 23 May 2011

Well, it was certainly an amazing winter to be working on Test Match Special!

I'm not sure England's incredible Ashes success has sunk in even now. Did England really win three Tests by an innings in Australia? Did Jonathan Agnew really perform a strange dance routine on the outfield at the SCG? Then there was the World Cup with the rollercoaster ride of England's campaign before the tournament's thrilling climax with Mahendra Dhoni fulfilling the hopes and dreams of a billion Indian fans as they defeated Sri Lanka in Mumbai.

It will be a difficult act to follow - but this promises to be a summer full of intrigue with the teams who contested that final at the Wankhede Stadium both touring - and both will be coached by men who have recently worked as Test Match Special summarisers, Stuart Law and Duncan Fletcher.

Sri Lanka and India should prove to be really exciting opposition. Sri Lanka are a side in transition with a new captain, record-breaking spinner Muttiah Muralitharan now retired from international cricket and "Malinga the Slinger" concentrating on the shorter forms of the game.

But Sri Lanka should provide plenty of excitement - their two warm-up games already have been fascinating affairs including a victory over England Lions despite having to follow on.

Then later in the summer, world champions India come to town with perhaps a last chance for English supporters to see the likes of Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar playing international cricket in the UK.

England one-day captain Alastair Cook, Test skipper Andrew Strauss and Twenty20 captain Stuart Broad

Cook, Strauss and Broad will all lead England this summer. Picture: Getty Images

There have already been quite a few talking points even before the international summer has started. England suddenly have three different captains and it will be fascinating to see how the Strauss-Cook-Broad axis will perform.

The selectors sprang a bit of a surprise picking Eoin Morgan ahead of Ravi Bopara, despite the Essex batsman turning down the Indian Premier League and showing good early season form.

But the selectors decided to show consistency, going with Morgan who was the reserve batsman at the Ashes and who managed to show great timing with a big century against the tourists.

Cardiff is the venue for Thursday's opening game - only the second Test ever to be held in the Welsh capital. Let's hope it lives up to the first match during the 2009 Ashes, when somehow Jimmy Anderson and Monty Panesar kept the Australians at bay to secure what turned out to be a crucial draw.

Jonathan Agnew will lead the Test Match Special team as usual on Thursday, sharing ball by ball commentary with Sri Lankan broadcaster Roshan Abeysinghe and his excellency, the MCC president Christopher Martin-Jenkins. This summer CMJ is fitting TMS around his ceremonial duties and I can't wait to hear tales of how he manages to juggle his busy schedule.

I remember telling his predecessor John Barclay that although it was a great appointment , there would be room for plenty of chaos. I warned him that it was more than likely that for most MCC events Christopher would turn up at the wrong time, on the wrong day and most probably at the wrong ground.

One of my abiding memories from the World Cup was during a game at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo coming back from the media centre to see CMJ desperately trying to open the door of a commentary box because he had arrived late for a stint. I had to go over and point out that he was trying to open the door of the wrong commentary box.

Joining CMJ, Aggers and Roshan in Cardiff will be summarisers Michael Vaughan, Geoff Boycott and Vic Marks. Vaughan will probably be glad of a sit-down after just completing a 230-mile charity cycle ride from Cork to Dublin.

Sir Geoffrey will hopefully have less trouble getting into the ground in Cardiff than he did at several venues during the World Cup in India where he at one ground demanded to see an army general after security threatened to confiscate his sandwiches and at another pretended to be one of the umpires to get through the crowds!

And it remains to be seen whether Victor has dry-cleaned his trusty old jacket ahead of the new season after a busy winter for him and his limited wardrobe.

All your usual favourites will be on duty throughout this summer with Henry Blofeld, Simon Mann, Simon Hughes and Phil Tufnell all appearing with the likes of Mark Butcher, Marcus Trescothick and Alec Stewart popping in from time to time.

Alec will be on duty for BBC Radio 5 live in Cardiff alongside Pat Murphy as they bring the normal updates every 15 minutes plus lots of reaction to each day's play during 5 live Sport, and Aggers and Boycs will round up events each day in the legendary TMS Podcast, available to download shortly after play.

And as always we want you to get involved either by e-mailing us at, texting 84040, contributing to this TMS blog or reacting to our various Twitter sites like Jonathan @aggerscricket, Michael @vaughancricket, our statistical expert Malcolm Ashton @tmsscorer or myself @tmsproducer.

After spending the Ashes embedded in the TMS team, BBC Sport website writer Tom Fordyce will once again be part of our team bringing his normal alternative view on the cricket and life behind the scenes on TMS with blogs, features and via Twitter @tomfordyce.

Plus, Tom will be showing off his own sporting pedigree as England's fielding coach Richard Halsall puts him through his paces to show how he has made England one of the best fielding sides in world cricket. You'll be able to hear how he got on during one of the intervals in Cardiff.

We have a Welsh sporting legend as our first "View from the Boundary" of the summer with rugby great Gareth Edwards joining Aggers during the lunch interval on Saturday. Plus in other intervals we'll hear about the launch of "Cricket Wales" and about the fascinating "Taking the Field" project where the MCC and University of Glamorgan are producing an oral history of cricket in the UK and Sri Lanka. And former Glamorgan opener turned England managing director Hugh Morris will join us to explain why they have gone for the three-captain approach.

And just a couple of dates for your diary. Andrew Flintoff presents his first "World of Sport" show on 5 live at 2000 BST on Thursday evening, Michael Vaughan and Phil Tufnell are part of the regular "Monday Night Cricket Club" starting on 5 live on 30 May, and I am delighted to announce that BBC 5 live sports extra will have ball-by-ball commentary from this season's domestic Twenty20 competition starting with a repeat of last year's final - Hampshire v Somerset - on 1 June.


  • Comment number 1.

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

  • Comment number 2.

    Can't wait. TMS IS summer.

  • Comment number 3.

    Can't wait for the White game to start. Concerned that SL beat the Lions. More coverage of these tour matches would be appreciated. MCC is in fine hands with CMJ, among the cricket journalists I respect most. Hope Hildreth breaks into the Test side. We should beat SL but not easily. It'll be interesting to see how Duncan Fletcher has adapted to Indian player power. I fond his appointment a little puzzling.

  • Comment number 4.

    I cant believe the extreme optimism of the english fans, England will loose both test series. Being an Indian Fan cant wait for the worlds no 1 test side and world champions defeat England!

  • Comment number 5.

    The summer starts on Thursday - can't wait for the return of TMS.

  • Comment number 6.

    The White Clothes Game, TMS... the summer officially starts on Thursday.

    Hoping that Cardiff wicket has got some pace and bounce in it.

    I want to see the tourist's batsman jumpin' around and sniffin' the leather.

  • Comment number 7.

    Sounds good. Does that mean that Blofeld has finally moved on? Feel Boycott is not a positive for tms. Otherwise, quite pleased.

    Will there be tms message boards available over the coming summer, when 606 finishes?

  • Comment number 8.

    All good and looking forward to it, but what about some coverage for the ladies this summer? They have 2 great quadrangular tournaments that will produce some great cricket - plus England are coming back to their best!

  • Comment number 9.

    Dinesh - "Being an Indian Fan cant wait for the worlds no 1 test side and world champions defeat England!"

    Ah well Dinesh, one can hope for sure but I can't see why England fans should not be optimistic. After all it is not blind optimism. Take a dispassionate look and one will find England has been the team to watch for the past two years. It has been on the upsurge consistently - though the rest of the world generally ignored its progress. Maybe we all woke up a bit late. England is now a genuine contender for the top spot.
    I feel it will be a close series.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think 'extreme' optimism is a bit harsh sound like India have already won the series. Being unbeaten in a test series for 2 years will do that for a team. Also the last two world champions who were also No. 1 ranked test side when they visited lost to us.

    2005 - Australia - Also one the best test sides to ever be assembled mind you it's quite possibly one of the greatest test series ever to be held.

    2009 - Australia - Okay a side in decline by this point but they were still the world number 1 and world champions at the time.

    It's going to be a tight series and I believe India will edge it but I'm honestly quite tired of Indian supporters acting like they've already won the series before a ball has even been bowled.

  • Comment number 11.

    Sri Lanka may struggle without Malinga and Murily to take wickets, so I do expect (hope!) England should dominate against Sri Lanka. However India is a whole different matter, they are a great side at the peak of the powers, good skipper in Dhoni and of course a team of class such as Gambir,Tendulkar, Harbhajan, Sreesanth etc. I do agree with various comments above that England are the most improved squad in the last 2 years, and unlike 2003-05, there is more depth to the bowling attack, with some exciting players such as a Finn, so all in all I think it will be a really close series against India, and I think the final outcome will depend on if the weather conditions suit England or India best - if the ball is swinging we have the better attack, I will go with a final result of 2-1 - shame it's not a five match series, I would have liked to see less mickey mouse cricket played to squeeze in another test

  • Comment number 12.

    I cant believe the extreme optimism of the Indian fans, India (and Sri Lanka) will lose both test series. Being an England fan, can't wait for the one of the world's best test sides to defeat India!

  • Comment number 13.

    Wishing Aggers, CMJ and Team TMS an exciting summer.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho


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