Test Match Special - the best way to watch the cricket
Of all the highs and lows of my job, visiting the Test Match Special commentary box at Lords in July last year must rank as one of my most memorable and uplifting moments. As I listened to Aggers, Blowers, CMJ and the rest of the team analyse the quality of each delivery while conveying the whole glorious mood of the occasion, from stray pigeons to the sunburnt crowd, I was struck by the preciousness of the whole enterprise.
Like many ideas that prove a triumph for radio, ball-by-ball cricket commentary was considered by many to be too slow to be a compelling proposition. Indeed, the very idea of communicating something so visual on radio was seen as largely impossible (rather like some of the initial concerns about the recent series A History of The World in 100 Objects). Segments of ball-by-ball commentary began in the mid 1930s following the launch of cricket reporting in 1927. In 1957 the first full day of cricket commentary was broadcast leading to TMS becoming fully-ingrained in English culture in a way that is perhap unparalleled in broadcasting.
This year as the first test begins in Brisbane (with a slightly wobbly English first innings), I hope that everyone with the vaguest interest in how the Strauss vs Ponting battle develops will find time to sit quietly listening to TMS. Even if you are able to watch it on television, let my offer a friendly challenge to sit listening to an hour of TMS after watching the television. I suspect that the most vivid pictures that will be created in your head by the likes of Geoff Boycott, Michael Vaughan or Ian Chappell.
Below you will find details of our coverage (including not only TMS but our excellent 5Live programming) as well as the link to a rather good Ashes archive for your to explore. Enjoy the cricket.
Tim Davie is Director of Audio & Music at the BBC
- Join the discussion of The Ashes on Twitter. Follow BBC cricket people and use the hashtag #BBCAshes.
- The schedule of commentaries on 5 live Sports Extra and a blog post about Radio 4's LW coverage by Andrew Caspari.
- BBC Sport's Ashes archive is full of clips from television and radio coverage over the decades - going back to 1938.
- The Test Match Special blog brings together posts from all of the BBC's cricket blogs.
- Adam Mountford, Test Match Special producer, has written about the BBC's Ashes coverage on his blog.
- The picture shows Trevor Bailey and Brian Johnston - the Test Match Commentary Team - in action at Lords in 1981.