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Test Match Special

Wednesday 19 August 2009, 09:50

Mark Damazer Mark Damazer

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Alan McGilvray, Trevor Bailey, Freddie Truman, and Henry Blofeld, Test Match Special, Lords 1981

Test Match Special is a favourite programme. I first started listening more or less forty years ago. I remember not only the wonderful Arlott and Johnston - but Alan Gibson and Don Mosey and Alan McGilvray and EW Swanton. Like many others I turned down the TV commentary to listen to TMS - unless Richie Benaud was on TV duty.

That is a bit harder to do now as Sky (who do a very good job I rather think) and TMS are not in perfect sync. Alas.

Of course everyone with an interest in cricket and/or TMS knows of the Brian Johnston corpsing moment - or should that be corpsing minutes. I was listening live at the time. But I have other favourite moments. I do this next bit from memory - and someone out there correct me if this is wrong - but I recollect a New Zealand batsman in the 1970s (perhaps Bev Congdon?) making two successive huge hundreds. John Arlott asked Trevor Bailey what were Congdon's weaknesses. Trevor Bailey replied... "He loses concentration when he gets to 170." Very fine.

Why is TMS so good? Because it is about metaphor and simile - about literature and art, about weather and place - about food and drink - as well as about a great game (though not necessarily a better game than baseball - but that's another story). And we are always looking for the perfect balance between the sporting ingredients and the other delicacies that surround the cricket. Everyone has a different opinion about what that balance should be... and it is an art form. We must not miss a ball but it would be a mistake not to let the team go off piste.

We are in good nick at the moment. The programme of course is now online and on 5 Live Sports Extra but it will long stay a defining part of R4's culture. It will not be a sports commentary programme alone. I am going to see the TMS team on Saturday morning at the Oval. Let us hope the match is still alive at that point. I have an Australian wife and my children have Australian passports and some of them will be with me. I do not know whether I am impartial. I would not wish to fail the Tebbit test. So I shall pray for Freddie's knee.

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 1.

    Mark, re TMS and Sky not being in perfect sync - if you listen to TMS on DAB radio and watch Sky on the normal channel (non HD) they are *close* to perfect sync.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 2.

    Mark writes that "the programme of course is now online" but it can take quite a while to find it!

    There are *no* links to live listening that i can see from the Radio 4 Test Match Special page:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00c67t1

    The Radio 4 pages once again leave the online reader to look elsewhere around the BBC.

    I am an ardent fan of Radio 4, and TMS - "a defining part of R4's culture", says Mark - deserves better from the online team.



    Readers of this blog can listen online here:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/8138621.stm

    Good wishes
    nikki

  • rate this
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    Comment number 3.

    Completely off-topic, but can I just say that..

    1/ Mark Lawson interviewing Victoria Wood on Front Row,

    and..

    2/ Peter White's entire series of 'No Triumph, No Tragedy'

    were excellent. Hope that No Triumph gets re-commissioned.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 4.

    Just listened to Today with foreign secretary calling the area between Pakistan and Afghanistan as the 'bad lands'. When I hear such a total generalization of a huge land mass, let alone mass of different tribes of peoples, I feel anger rising up because it is obviously a label that is meant to convey to the British public - its OK to bomb there. I would encourage the today program to interview Greg Mortenson, head of the Central Asia Institute who has been building schools specifically in that area for 10 year - 55 in fact that seek to really combat the issue of fundamentalism by providing an alternative education to Madrassas especially focused on women who stay in communities over the longer term and thus create real change. Greg is an American offering education to women in a strong muslim area, who is now loved by the people there. if he can create fundamental change without bombs and on an extremely tight budget, ($12,000 per school), so can we. Please interview him and please read his story - the best seller 'three cups of tea'

  • rate this
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    Comment number 5.

    @nikki_noodle You're right. Radio 4's Test Match Special page is pretty thin. This is because the programme is produced by BBC Sport, which - as you'll understand - is pretty unusual for a Radio 4 programme. There's a more useful page on their web site. I've alerted the Radio 4 Interactive team. They might be able to add some more useful links to the Radio 4 pages.

    And @LordBeddGelert and @cornishclare, you are so far off-topic that I really ought to moderate your comments out. Please try to stay closer to the topic under discussion.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • rate this
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    Comment number 6.

    thanks Steve, for the post - your link to BBC Sport is not correct :-(

  • rate this
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    Comment number 7.

    #6. At 10:29am on 21 Aug 2009, nikki noodle wrote:

    "thanks Steve, for the post - your link to BBC Sport is not correct :-("

    Try this http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/tms/default.stm for TMS

    Or http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/default.stm for the BBC Sport Cricket home page

  • rate this
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    Comment number 8.

    But Steve, surely the point of 'test match special' is that some of their comments are widely off the topic of cricket !?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 9.

    #8. At 1:54pm on 21 Aug 2009, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    "But Steve, surely the point of 'test match special' is that some of their comments are widely off the topic of cricket !?

    I think you've just bowled the "Googly" (if that is the correct spelling) there LBG! :-)

  • rate this
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    Comment number 10.

    @Boilerplated and @LordBedGelert Owzat! I'll consider myself clean bowled and out for a duck. You are of course right. Around now one of you ought to produce a cake sent in by listener.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • rate this
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    Comment number 11.

    For those who post 'links' to BBC on-line live coverage...please be aware that these are only for those in the UK. I, living in France, can only get TMS/live coverage on 198KHz (steam radio R4).

  • rate this
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    Comment number 12.

    Steve wondering if you can explain the lack of sync between the TV and the radio. As an Australian listener, it is a ritual for nearly 30 years that the TV sound is turned down and TMS is listened to. I dont understand how if it is out of sync the signal cant be modified for it to be in sync. Surely having it in sync with the TV should be a priority. If the TV change their signal so the radio is out of sync, why cant the radio adjust accordingly?
    We were very happy to hear Henry on TMS as we werent quite sure if he would be on it or not. Also hearing Ian Chappell, untethered from his TV role where he gets to say not much in between the ads and what have you - it was a real pleasure. For Australians of a certain vintage he remains a paramount and most respected figure in our cricket. I used to enjoy the work of Don Mosey as well as Brian. I thought Don Mosey was a great commentator.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 13.

    Sorry, I realise I should have asked Mark. Mark what can be done to ensure the radio and TV are in sync for the majority of the time? thank you

  • rate this
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    Comment number 14.

    #12. At 05:33am on 24 Aug 2009, astrolin wrote:

    "Steve wondering if you can explain the lack of sync between the TV and the radio. As an Australian listener, it is a ritual for nearly 30 years that the TV sound is turned down and TMS is listened to. I dont understand how if it is out of sync the signal cant be modified for it to be in sync. Surely having it in sync with the TV should be a priority. If the TV change their signal so the radio is out of sync, why cant the radio adjust accordingly?"

    Sorry but why should the BBC do anything to encourage people to use a rival network, perhaps you should be asking BSkyB why they have such poor presentation and commentary values?!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 15.

    @astrolin It's a good question. And everyone I've spoken to since this post went up has a story about trying to synch up TMS and the TV coverage. @Boilerplated is right too: no one at the BBC is going to spend much time trying to synch radio sound with another broadcaster's pictures but even if they did it would be essentially pointless.

    There are so many points of delay in the digital distribution chain - encoders, decoders, MUXs, de-MUXs etc. - that it would be a waste of effort trying to synch signals - even if the signals arrived in your house in synch, your computer, set-top box or digital radio will insert its own unpredictable delay (an old set-top box will take longer to decode the signal than an up-to-date one, for instance and high definition TV signals will usually arrive after the standard ones).

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

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    Comment number 16.

    #15. At 09:51am on 24 Aug 2009, steve_bowbrick wrote:

    "There are so many points of delay in the digital distribution chain - encoders, decoders, MUXs, de-MUXs etc. - that it would be a waste of effort trying to synch signals - even if the signals arrived in your house in synch, your computer, set-top box or digital radio will insert its own unpredictable delay"

    Yes, and attempt at syncing would have to be done at the point of use (viewing), the delay required (either audio or video) will be different depending on platforms used and were in the world the consumer is. It is possible to buy end user consumer spec equipment that can delay either vision of audio, if I remember correctly it's intended to sort out miss-matched audio-visual content on large built-in home-theatre type installations etc. but would probably work with these miss-matched cricket broadcasts. Saying that, quite why anyone would want to spend such money...

  • rate this
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    Comment number 17.

    "metaphor and similie" No spellcheck in the BBC, was it banned by Lord Reith? ;)

  • rate this
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    Comment number 18.

    @rupertbu Ouch. Thanks for the sub-editing assistance. Sorted.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

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    Comment number 19.

    I wish to thank you for your reply re sync. As an Australian I come from a cricket culture where Channel 9 commentary is not everyone's cup of tea. Endless promotions flogging this signed picture or whatever between deliveries. In the last few years, even poor old Richie Benaud has been corralled into saying "Such and such program is on at 830 tonight on Nine. Its very good viewing". So its been my practice for many years to turn the sound down and listen to the radio. Sync has only become an issue here and with the Ashes from England in the past few years. I can only put it down to the tv people wanting to subject you to their ads etc. Before then it everything was in synch.
    Now I read this blog and realise there are technical issues in getting things in sync. TMS was in synch for us Aussies for the Lords test and that was abt it. As for BBC not wanting to synch their coverage with Sky, as they are another broadcaster, I find that puzzling. As far as I know they are the only TV broadcaster and in my opinion, the ABC and BBC should be providing commentary in synch for people at home rather than just provide commentary for people in their car or moving around. So I cant see the business case for denying fans an alternative to the TV but I acknowledge what was written about the techy side. On that, all I can say it was never the case in all the 80s and 90s Ashes series from England. But I bow to the technical remarks here.
    Also Steve, with Australia playing two tests v Pakistan in England next year, will TMS be covering those? It would be nice if they did but I know an England team is not playing, so I am wondering.

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    Comment number 20.

    @nikki noodle I passed your comment about the lack of links to the Test Match Special streams onto the Radio 4 Interactive team and they've now linked from the Radio 4 programme listings directly to a more useful page at the 5 Live sports extra site. Thanks for the tip-off!

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

 

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