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Test Match Special tunes up for start of a big summer

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Adam Mountford | 23:25 UK time, Thursday, 10 May 2012

"De de de, de de de-de de..."

On Thursday morning at 1045 BST, the familiar strains of "Soul Limbo" by Booker T and the MG's will mean the summer can officially begin.

Never does our Test Match Special theme tune seem more appropriate than when the West Indies are in town, although the weather recently has not exactly been Caribbean in flavour.

Our BBC cricket coverage has never really stopped since last summer, with a busy winter which took TMS from India to the United Arab Emirates and to Sri Lanka. Then we have been able to bring you for the first time our new, extended county coverage giving you a flavour of the Championship season which started back in the first week in April.

But of course there is always something extra special about the start of an international summer and it promises to be an exciting few months as cricket prepares to take its place in what will be the UK's biggest summer of sport.

West Indies captain Darren Sammy

Darren Sammy took over the West Indies captaincy from Chris Gayle in 2010. Photo: Getty

The Olympics will undoubtedly overshadow part of the cricketing summer, but the chance to lock horns with old rivals Australia, albeit in a one-day series, followed by a battle for the number one Test slot against South Africa are both mouth-watering prospects.

Plus, the hors d'oeuvre of the West Indies tour offers much, if the weather doesn't spoil the matches.

Although Darren Sammy's team are a long, long way from the great West Indies sides of the past, there have been a few green shoots showing in recent months.

The West Indies won their first away series in eight years in November and they have been involved in two thrilling matches against Australia and India which they should have won. They had a great opportunity to defeat the Aussies in Barbados in April before losing a nail-biter by three wickets and in November played an amazing game in Mumbai where India closed on 242-9 chasing 243 to win... another boring Test match draw!

Although the early part of their tour has been dogged by bad weather, batting collapses, visa issues and injury - if they can get their strongest team on the park, West Indies could provide some problems for England especially with the likes of exciting Brian Lara clone Darren Bravo, fast bowlers Kemar Roach and Fidel Edwards, spinners Narsingh Deonarine and Shane Shillingford, and old stager Shivnarine Chanderpaul who has just returned to the top of the ICC batting rankings.

England will start as favourites in the Tests with home advantage and conditions in their favour, but they must not show any complacency, and when it comes to the one-day matches then the tourists may have the edge with the gripping prospect of both a restored Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard among their batting line-up.

In terms of our line-up for the series we are delighted to be welcoming back the legendary Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards to the Test Match Special team. Viv may have just turned 60, but I doubt he has mellowed too much and is always fascinating to listen to about the state of Caribbean cricket. Being able to share a commentary box with one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Century will again be an honour - and I know when he walks onto the hallowed turf of Lord's on Thursday morning he'll still have the old swagger as if he owns the place!

Viv, of course, was one of Jonathan Agnew's Test victims... as he may mention a few times - and Aggers of course will be leading our team this summer.

He'll be joined at Lord's by the voice of West Indies cricket, Tony Cozier, and by Henry Blofeld who is fresh from describing multiple cranes on England's tour to the UAE. As well as Viv Richards, expert summaries will also come from former England captain Michael Vaughan, Phil Tufnell (another man to dismiss Viv in Test matches) and the irrepressible Geoff Boycott.

As well as ball-by-ball commentary we'll have plenty to enjoy during the intervals including our first "View from the Boundary" of the summer where legendary broadcaster "Whispering" Bob Harris will be joining Aggers to talk about his love of the game.

We'll meet the new man at the helm at Lord's, Derek Brewer, discover the inspirational story of the Compton Cricket Club which is doing amazing work in the United States, find out about links between cricket and the Olympics as Lord's prepares to host the 2012 archery competition and we'll have the highlights of the England Players of the Year awards which you'll be able to hear on Monday night with Michael Vaughan and Phil Tufnell on BBC Radio 5 live.

Talking about 5 live, Alison Mitchell and Alec Stewart will have all the news from Lord's every 15 minutes and Ian Payne presents 5 live Sport from the ground on Sunday.

The TMS text commentary will be at the heart of the action with Tom Fordyce behind the scenes at Lord's to bring you all the latest news and gossip, while bbc.co.uk/cricket will also be the place for columns from Jonathan Agnew and Alec Stewart as well as details of how you can download the Test Match Special podcast featuring Aggers and Geoff Boycott.

And as always we want to hear from you - via e-mail tms@bbc.co.uk, via Twitter @tmsproducer or via this blog.

Not long now... start humming it... "De de de, de de de-de de..."

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Can't wait, love hearing Sir Viv in the commentary box though the Windies series will just be the starter for the main course that is the South African tests, just a shame we couldn't swap the pointless Aussie ODI series for another test. The Olympics certainly won't be overshadowing the cricket in this household, lets just hope the weather doesn't overshadow things either.

  • Comment number 2.

    Just to keep Aggers and Tuffers properly humble, would you like to make sure that the stats of both v The great Sir Viv are readily to hand throughout the series? :)

  • Comment number 3.

    Very much looking forward to it.Love the West Indies ever since the first time I saw them in 1973.Cricket spontaniety at its best, not structured but exciting, they have been my favourite cricket team ever since.These days wealth and numbers dictate who is at the top of the game, but a West Indies touring team will always have a special place in my heart.

  • Comment number 4.

    I can't wait for the cricket to start again (not that it's been too long since the last series). I can't help but think we will crush the West Indies, their build up has been disorganised and poor, and if it remains cool and cloudy, Anderson, Bresnan and Broad will be devastating. I wouldn't be surprised if we bowl them out for under 100 at least twice.

    Very exciting summer of sport all round...

    http://samhopwood.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/is-it-possible-to-overdose-on-sport.html

  • Comment number 5.

    I saw Viv Richards play for Lansdown as a teenager before he played for Somerset. Even then you knew he was a special player. Commonplace trundlers like Agnew & Tufnell were both absurdly privileged even to be on the same pitch as him.

  • Comment number 6.

    Will be an interesting summer of cricket for England. Australia are back in good form and South Africa will be a tough test for England unless South Africa play disappointing during the summer like what India did last summer.

  • Comment number 7.

    Whatever happened to Donna, the West Indian lady who used to join the TMS team?

  • Comment number 8.

    cant wait to hear Sir Vivian,alwaysmy favourite at Somerset when i was a kid,He never gave me his autograph though

  • Comment number 9.

    I played against Sir Viv when he was at Lansdown CC - he hit us all around the ground for a quick fifty, then drove the ball into cover point's hands and strolled off. Most entertaining & educational to watch from the slips, not much of a challenge for him really..

  • Comment number 10.

    Deonarine is a middle order batsmen by trade. Sammy threw him the ball against Australia as a 'fifth-bowler' option and he started taking wickets, but he comes in at number 6 in the order. Didn't score too many runs mind you.

  • Comment number 11.

    Looking forward to the Windies series - shame the very promising Sunil Narine's at the IPL. What's happened to Graeme Fowler ? Always enjoyed his observations - any chance he'll be back later in the summer.

  • Comment number 12.

    Judging from your photo, Adam, I should lay off the pies.

  • Comment number 13.

    #6.

    Very unlikely that SA will play anything like India did last year! If England, despite being at home, beat SA then they will really merit No.1 status. Very tough series.

    Chuffed that Bairstow is in the squad and likely to play. We need more Englishmen in the side. Indeed, we need only Englishmen in the side. Just saying.

  • Comment number 14.

    #7.

    Yeah, good point. What did happen to Donna (Simmonds?)?

  • Comment number 15.

    Thanks for all your comments. Re Donna Symonds. I understand she spends most of her time working as a lawyer in Barbados these days and doesn't do as much commentary.
    Re "thewelshboycott" - I have enough trouble with the Yorkshire Boycott without you joining in the sledging! You try staying slim in a commentary box with a constant supply of cake and Pork Pies! I will try harder this summer to show restraint!

  • Comment number 16.

    Great stuff, can't wait. After suffering the high pitched screams of the excitable children that ply their trade as football commentators it will be a blessing to listen to the calm, informed and witty utterances of Aggers, Tuffers, Viv, Blowers and especially Sir Geoffrey.

  • Comment number 17.

    Sir Viv is in town... always a pleasure to hear the commentary of Tony Cozier. Can I also plug from TV the excellent Geoffery Dujon ?

    Come On The Windies.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hi Adam (and/or the powers that be),

    Any chance of a blog about the 'Englishness' of England's players (batsmen at the moment)? I'd love to know the views of proper cricket fans.

    Read recently that 90% of England batsmen to have been capped in the last 5 years are either ex-public schoolboys or of South African descent. Not overly concerned about the schooling side of this debate (don't think that Jimmy the Magnificent and Swanny were at Eton!).

    I have nothing against the likes of Trott. He, like Andy Flower (tho' to much lesser extent) has served the English (& Welsh) county scene. He's not obviously gifted in the way that KP is; it was inevitable that KP play international cricket. Not so with Trott. Nevertheless, Trott is not an Englishman.

    For me personally, that dilutes our success proportionately to the % of non-English born players in the side.

    I suspect that there's a legal side to this issue (discriminatory practice against E-qualified players, &c.). That returns us to the schoolboy issue. If we're only looking at public schools (because only they have the facilities conducive to nurturing technically correct batsmen*) then the chance-to-shine initiative is not working. So we turn to foreign imports. Both KP and Trott should have (and probably would havé) represented SA. Strauss and Prior are English by my reckoning (but that's a subjective view). Morgan is perhaps the most controversial case since he does not represent England for reasons of disaffection with his home country.

    Anyway, I know this blog is about the Windies, so sorry. But it's an important issue for a number of England fans. There's a much broader cultural sense in which English identity is being eroded: we don't have our own nationally recognised anthem, many of our athletes are not English. And, for the life of me I can't think why, nobody much likes us.

    Lastly, the county scene is producing quality batsmen but the absurd scheduling experiment is damaging their international prospects. Can't believe that all those guys are ex-public school: James Taylor, Carberry, Root, Bairstow, Woakes, Stokes, Hamilton-Brown (got to be ex-PS), &c.).

    Sorry I've forgotten what the asterisk was for (can't scroll back on my mobile).

    Good luck to the TMS team and, of course, the Text Match Special team. Can't wait for the imternational summer (Tests only mind you- you can keep the other stuff).

    RB

  • Comment number 19.

    #18.

    Oh yes. I've remembered what the '*' was for.

    Anyone interested in the issues raised, Check out the Ravi Bopara interview on this cite. Until then I was undecided about Ravi's credentials as an England specialist batsman (obviously he's as English as they come, I mean technically and mentally).

    That article reassured me whilst drilling home the ludicrous situation that young dedicated cricketers find themselves in if they aren't doing their sums at public school.

  • Comment number 20.

    Last word, I promise (in case anyone else is itching to get a word in!):

    Well said Yorkshire skipper Andrew Gale apropos Bairstow's selection (see article on this cite).

  • Comment number 21.

    @ R-Brooker, can we not debate whether people are "English" enough please. There are rules and the guys that play meet them. What gives you the right to say Strauss is a proper Englishman but Trott - a British passport holder - isn't?

  • Comment number 22.

    Not really connected with this blog but can't see anywhere else to post this, can we please have a bit better coverage of the County Championship, 8 lines of text for Yorkshire's cracking win over Gloucester, I know we're in Div 2 but come on a bit more depth please, coverage in the other games wasn't much better either.

  • Comment number 23.

    TheGentleStock

    what are you banging on about rights for?

    1. Passport holding is an issue of convenience not national identity. You can have many, but can't represent many international sports sides.

    2. Strauss's parents are English.

    3. If you're happy with a team full of Saffers and Irish mercenaries who wouldn't be seen dead playing for England if Ireland had Test status.

    4. For me it's a matter of concern when Englishmen are Being marginalised by loopholes in identity regulations

    5. I like and admire Trott. He took a décision to become English when it was not obvious that a lucrative international career lay before him. But, in the normal run of évents, he should be playing for SA.

  • Comment number 24.

    R-Brooker

    Whilst your point may have support from certain quarters from a philosophical point of view (insofar as it might be nice to see all players representing the England and Wales Cricket Board being English or Welsh), the fact is that it is entirely moot. The qualification rules are as they are and pontificating about which teams players "ought" to play for is at best irrelevant, and at worst, (forgive me) rather boring.

    It doesn't appear like the selectors are favouring foreign-born players over Welsh/English ones (take Morgan, for example, he lost form and lost his place). They are simply picking who they see as the best team available according to the qualification rules. Put it another way - realistically, which Welsh/English player would consistently do a better job than Trott at 3? Which "foreign" player who qualifies for England/Wales would be a better option than Anderson in attack?

    There are good young players coming through (Bairstow, the ever-growing reputation of Finn) and will continue to do so, so I see no danger of the rules stifling the development of Welsh/English talent. If anything, if there's a "foreign" incumbant in the position an English/Welsh player wants, then does this not prompt them to raise their game to oust that player? Arguably, that's quite a good thing...

    Anyway, all that aside - can't wait for the WI test. My wife is expecting our first very soon and I'm hopeful s/he will arrive safe and well in plenty of time for me to start her/his indoctrination into the splendour of test match cricket!

  • Comment number 25.

    i've met Viv a few times - very arrogant....the words "don't touch me" still ring in my ears! Still the greatest batsman of all time though.

  • Comment number 26.

    R-Brooker, how do you define Englishness? If you allow Strauss and Prior. Why do you deny KP? His mother is English afterall. What is Nick Compton was selected for this test? He's South African born but the grandson of one of England's greatest players.

    Saying you have to be England-born makes no sense as you alluded to by allowing Strauss to qualify. We have rules which have just recently been stiffened and as long as you qualify under those rules I don't seen how you make a distinction.

    Most people I can tell are annoyed and peeved by this argument every time it comes up, usually by fan of other Test playing nations as a way to dig at England.

  • Comment number 27.

    West Indies have improved a lot in recent times.
    Matches producing results on the fifth and final day
    would be an ideal advertisement for Test cricket.
    Wishing the batters, bowlers, fielders, wicket keepers,
    match officials, fans and Team TMS a fine Test Series.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

 

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