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Breezing into plush Barbados

Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 07:32 UK time, Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Well after, to say the least , an eventful week or so in Antigua, the Test Match Special team have moved onto Barbados for the fourth Test in this intriguing series.

There certainly will be quite a contrast between where TMS was broadcast from in Antigua and our surroundings at the Kensington Oval.

The late move to the Antigua Recreation ground meant we were located in a makeshift commentary box which clearly had seen better days.

Although it has to be said that the people at the ground could not have done any more to help us feel comfortable, even though they clearly had much more important priorities to work on ... like getting the rest of the stadium ready for an international fixture with a day's notice!...

Although broadcasting in the open air was a little challenging at times , especially when the wind started to blow , we were able to experience all the excitement of the match -especially the dramatic final afternoon when Sir Vivian Richards simply could not sit down while commentating as he was so caught up in the action.

Here in Barbados we are housed in the magnificent new media centre at the refurbished Kensington Oval which is among others named after our legendary West Indies commentator Tony Cozier. We get fantastic views from our vantage point on the fourth floor not only of the ground but also of downtown Bridgetown and beyond.Ricky Ponting relaxes on a Barbados beach in 2007 with the World Cup

This is only my second visit to the Kensington Oval. Two years ago I was here for the farcical World Cup final which provided a fitting climax to a tournament which will not be remembered fondly except by the Australians, who of course lifted the trophy.

After the officials inexplicably failed to interpret the rules correctly we ended up playing out a game in almost total darkness.

My overriding memory of that day was just after the last ball was bowled I went straight out onto the field to try and get some post match interviews.

It was quite literally pitch black out there to the extent that as I walked onto the field I failed to notice a group of performers on stilts almost walking straight into me!

They were part of a closing ceremony which sadly no-one saw because no proper lighting had been organised. It was that sort of evening.

Anyway let's hope things run smoothly this week.

As well as bringing you ball by ball commentary from 1330 on Thursday we also have lots of other interesting things for you.

During the lunch interval on the opening day of the match you'll be able to hear Jonathan Agnew's extensive interview with Giles Clarke, who despite the controversy over the Stanford affair has this week been confirmed as ECB chairman for another two years.

You will also be able to hear a fascinating chat with the man who represents the England players , PCA chief executive Sean Morris, who will have among other things the latest news on Andrew Flintoff and the IPL.

Other highlights include an interview with England's bowling coach Ottis Gibson who is of course originally from here in Barbados.

He'll be telling us about his debut for the island where he had the honour to open the bowling alongside West Indies and Barbados legend Malcolm Marshall.

Gibson's first four overs went for 28 runs, but he remembers getting sympathetic advice from Marshall. He now tries to offer similar words of wisdom to England's fast bowling attack.

Gladstone Small, another Barbados born fast bowler who went on to help England, will also be joining us in the Test Match Special box to share his memories of growing up here and helping to debate while so few recent England players come from the Caribbean community in the UK.

Other guests we are expecting include two of England's most successful spin bowlers Derek Underwood and Phil Tufnell - and as always who knows which other people may wander into the box over the next five days.

So join us from Thursday afternoon - and don't forget to check out the daily TMS podcast with Jonathan Agnew and Geoff Boycott.


  • Comment number 1.

    Glad to hear the TMS team will be suitably looked after for this Test. Looking forward to it as always and, if England can level the series, what a grand finale we could be in for!

    I have one moan though, a moan that i have aired previously but never had a response to. Accessibility to TMS via the airwaves has become problematical to say the least. I spend a great deal of time travelling around in the car but unfortunately, as with most recent cars, the radio does not have LW. Neither does it have Digital so therefore the only channel is 720MW. This however is very poor reception and most of the time not worth listening to. Surely the BBC should provide a better MW channel or, even better, an FM channel. Having just got the rights to broadcast again i would think this is something you should address sooner rather than later. Is there anything in the pipeline...please!

    That said, keep up the good work!

  • Comment number 2.

    Looking forward to the next five days of cricket in the company of Test Match Special.

    Here's hoping it's a great match, more of the locals turn out in force, and the pitch has got a bit of pace and bounce in it.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hoping for at least one brave selection by England rather than predictable safety first option (If in doubt stick with the Ashes 2005 player)!

    The contrast in facilities you highlight maybe moderninty catching up with the carribean thanks to the World Cup.

    Touring the Carribean as a fan used to be about the eccentricity, sitting with the locals and soaking up the atmosphere of the surroundings that matched the culture and WI spirit.

    Now I'm not so sure they do.

  • Comment number 4.

    re. Jonathan Agnew's interview with Giles Clarke.

    I hope he asks him how he thought he (Clarke) would get away with not being thought of as unbelievably naive by becoming involved with an American businessman who had probably never seen a game of cricket in his life! And who apparently landed at Lords in a helicopter! Does Giles Clarke have any idea of the history and sense of dignity that has (usually) been present in this great game. How he managed to keep his job after the whole fiasco is not only mystifying but a sad indicitement of how the upper echelons of the game think they are able to run. or even ruin. cricket.

    All that apart, I am looking forward to another good England performance that will enable us to level the series and then leave it open for us to wrap it up in the final test. Keep Harmison in, i'm sure he will eventually turn it around.

  • Comment number 5.

    Meanwhile, serious cricket fans are settling in for South Africa v Australia in Jo'burg! Kick-off in 35 minutes, but no mention on BBC website!

  • Comment number 6.

    Correction, I overlooked your pre-view! Sorry!

    (Writing from Brisbane, as a Pom I'm expecting continued SA dominance over Australia's weakest side for years.) (But may not be weak enough to lose the Ashes.)

  • Comment number 7.

    Re: No1 - dobbiblog TMS/LW in cars
    FYI - Be aware of the possible "hidden" LW - my car "hasn't got" LW either - just AM and FM with no digital and the salesperson "knew" that it didn't have LW - until they found out that in that case I wasn't going to buy the car. They then checked with an engineer who knew that LW was in fact hidden away at the bottom of AM - the tuning just carries on down past the bottom of AM so I listen on 198 "AM"
    Worth a look...

  • Comment number 8.

    I second ArcherA4's comment. I was initially made to feel like a refugee from another era when I asked at Halfords if my new car stereo would have LW, but a little investigation revealed that - contrary to dobbieblog's understanding - most recent cars DO have LW, exactly as Archer A4 explains. In fact, TMS being broadcast on LW is a great gift, as it enables one to enjoy the cricket even whilst motoring in France or Belgium.

  • Comment number 9.

    To ArchieA4 and Orlenok, many thanks for the information however LW is not on my newer car radio.

    You are correct with respect to my previous car radio, i used to tune in to 198LW found at the bottom of the dial but sadly this is not avaiable on the current model.

    I agree that LW is useful when travelling around but i just can't get it. The ideal solution would be an option of LW, MW or FM.....come on BBC, help us out!

  • Comment number 10.

    I bet you've had this one before -

    TMS, what brilliant coverage.

    The only time you ever need it is when you are unable to listen to UK radio. i.e. you are overseas.

    But this is exactly when you can't get it..."Available to UK broadband users only" and all that.

    Pourquoi? Are you trying to convert us all to baseball?


  • Comment number 11.

    Following Collingwood's ill-fated attempt to slog a six to reach his century, Vic Marks commented that perhaps there is a bet on amongst the English players. Whatever the reason for this rash of slogging when within reach of a ton, it seems to me the kind of behaviour that should be stamped out.
    It is nothing short of a disgrace and if I were the manager of the team I would not hesitate to take the lads concerned and have a very serious word with them. It is an insult to the great players of the game that more care and a straight bat is not shown at this stage of an innings. Can anyone seriously imagine Boycott or Peter May or Jim Laker playing a shot like Collingwood's when in reach of a hundred?

    By the way, is it true that Jim Laker nearly became a professional cyclist before he decided to concentrate on cricket?

  • Comment number 12.

    I agree with 'stuntguitar' that it is a mystery how Giles Clarke has not been told to resign or be sacked. I heard Jon Agnew's interview and it was clear that Clarke intended to show not one iota of remorse about the whole sorry Stanford affair.

    Clearly this so-called 'robust' defence was a strategy designed to keep himself in the job, but it simply added to the impression that here is a man who cares most about himself, and has little respect for the dignity of the game as a whole.

  • Comment number 13.

    Collingwood's attempt to reach his century in Barbados a la KP in the first test at Sabina Park should not be criticised. When a batsman has patiently batted to get to 94, why does he feel such compelling urgency to post 100 is a question that can be best answered by the batsman to himself.

    Regardless of what bravado reply they give to the public, I am sure inside they are embarrassed to have lost the patience and objectivity. The guilt of their pursuit of the personal landmark overruling the team interest can also not fail to gnaw at their heart. The procrastination is much more pernicious in limited over formats than in Tests.
    The bigtime century makers Gavaskar and Tendulkar have undergone this torturous phenomenon many times in their careers. Many a time they were so diffident in taking the next step that team interest suffered even more due to inordinate delay caused by their dithering . Many a times they still failed and many a time fell soon after, to the euphoria generated by the ton. Their gawking at the milestone earned them a notoriety that once prompted captain Rahul Dravid in a test match in Pakistan to issue an ultimatum to Tendulkar who was on the verge of a double hundred. 'ok x overs or I declare'. Tendulkar was still worse than a snail and Rahul declared, copping a lot of criticism for the crass decision. Crass because although the declaration was supremely in the team interest, the result still eluded the Indians.
    Tendulkar's 6,7 year old son had to face so much flak from his peers that he felt obliged to advise the legend to hit a six or get out. No loitering around that made the junior a laughing stock. These days, though Tendulkar does not always manage to hit a six, he no longer gawks.

  • Comment number 14.


    Deep into day four and we still haven't completed two innings. Dreadfully slow pitch. Anyone else tired of test cricket on these slow batsman-friendly tracks?

    Jo'burg on the other hand is perfectly poised going into day five.

  • Comment number 15.

    Yeah, the pitch is flat in Barbados - but if England had played 5 bowlers they probably wouldn't be in the trouble they now find themselves.

    The thing is, that's home advantage coming in to play. That's what home advantage is for. They want to defend their 1-0 lead, so that's one of the tools at their disposal.

    That's why it's so hard to understand the ECB's decision to play the first Ashes Test at Cardiff, where England have never completed a game. They know nothing about the pitch or how it will behave or respond, thus the home advantage is wiped out.

    Might as well play it in Dubai if they wanted a neutral venue - at least it would be sunny there.

  • Comment number 16.

    Home advantage, defending your lead and all that ... that's a fair comment.

    Unfortunately test cricket on these flat pitches continues to be the loser. Is it the overpowering TV continuing to call the tune. Ensuring all these matches go the full distance?

    A really good track from recent memory was England's 2nd test in New Zealand. A pitch with good pace and carry over five days - two mediocre sides played an excellent test match.

  • Comment number 17.

    I'm in the UK, and is still isn't that easy to listen to TMS.
    I'd listen to it more than I do, except my company blocks the internet page, so listening online is out. A lot of companies are doing that now, BBC take note - listening online is not the way forward.

    That leaves me with Digital - fantastically clear, but only when I'm in the corner of my kitchen by the window listening on my portable DAB, or in my living room, listening via Freeview channel 706. Absolutely no reception on my portable DAB whatsoever at work. Not a squeak. Same in a shopping centre, or an airport.

    So that leaves LW. My old transistor did have LW, but the reception is rubbish, and I can find LW in the car, but there is no reception at all. Just a lot of hiss.

    So BBC, beware of putting all your TMS eggs into the 'online/digital' basket'. Most of us can't hear you. Until companies are convinced that listening to TMS is a way of blocking out the office noise, which increases daily as the powers that be cram more and more people into my office, or Digital radio experts find a way of us picking up a signal once we set foot inside a building, then we're stuffed.
    I'm interested to know how people in the BBC building in White City listen to BBC radio - on line or via Digital - if Digital, how do you get any reception inside the building?

  • Comment number 18.

    Sorry to keep moaning on about the slow pitches... promise to shut up about it now. I just like to see a good even contest between bat and ball.

    Thanks to TMS for the continued excellent coverage in the West Indies. I particularly enjoyed Phil Tuffers 90s recollections the other day. The Caribbean connection and recent English test cricketers with Gladstone Small today was really interesting.

  • Comment number 19.

    Well it's I think 6 days now since the BBC bothered to post a new thread and even
    that was only about the comforts of the TMS special team and a plug for the BBC's coverage, with nothing of substance on the test match to come.

    And it's almost a month since we heard from Aggers on the TMS blog.

    Aggers, where are you? I miss you!

  • Comment number 20.

    Well...that was exciting wasn't it?

  • Comment number 21.

    Cricket is a very funny Sport.


  • Comment number 22.

    Just popped back to this blog hoping to see a response from Mr Mountford or indeed the BBC....alas, there is none!

    Glad to see though that i am not the only one left frustrated by the limited ways to listen to TMS. Come on BBC.....respond!

    As for the last test, a real shame that the pitch prevented any sort of win. From a spectators point of view, what a game the last test could have been if it was one each going in.



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