Ashton joins TMS team
Well after another hectic winter for Test Match Special with commentary from Sydney to St Lucia, from Bangalore to Barbados we are back for what promises to be the most exciting summer in English cricket history.
The start of the Test series against the West Indies is just the beginning of an amazing few months ahead with 10 one-day internationals, the ICC World Twenty20 and of course the Ashes. Plus, England's victorious women's team will try to complete a incredible treble as they defend their Ashes crown and compete in the Women's Twenty20 tournament which runs alongside the men's competition.
Of course, someone who would have relished the summer ahead would have been our legendary scorer Bill Frindall and it is still difficult to come to terms with the fact that he won't be taking up his usual position in the corner of the Test Match Special commentary box at Lord's.
We have been inundated with hundreds of e-mails, texts and letters paying tribute to Bill - and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your kind thoughts.
It is quite simply impossible to replace the Bearded Wonder in the TMS box, but I am pleased to say that this summer Malcolm Ashton, who has been working with us on one-day internationals in recent years, will be joining us for the Test matches as well.
Keen listeners will remember that Malcolm actually understudied Bill back in 1987. Bill was working as a cricket writer for the Mail on Sunday that year and therefore had to spend Saturday's in the press box.
Two years later Malcolm began an 11-year spell as the BBC Television scorer and statistician, but I remember meeting him properly for the first time during his 10 years working as part of the England touring side.
It was in Adelaide in 2002/3 that I first shared a quiet drink with the man affectionately known as "Ashtray".
Malcolm worked as the scorer and eventually as the analyst for the England team, but he also played another key role on tours.
His contagious sense of humour proved critical, especially when results on the field weren't going to plan.
Famously, he produced regular spoof newspapers which I'm told were definitely not for general publication. But although no player escaped his ridicule, Malcolm remained one of the most popular members of the England backroom staff and to this day they still speak fondly of him - well at least whilst he is listening!
His first radio experience came five years later when he scored for Radio 2 during matches featured on Stuart Hall's Sunday programme. And who do you think was the first commentator he came across ... Henry Blofeld!
At least he should have some idea of what to expect when he encounters Blowers again later in May.
Although cricket is Malcolm's first love he was actually a talented footballer and hockey player.
But Malcolm's talents don't just rest with sport.
The theatrical side of Malcolm may prove very useful if we have lots of rain delays this summer.
One thing I will be very careful of though is broadcasting too many of Malcolm's jokes.
He is one of those blokes who seems to pick up a stream of dodgy gags and normally greets you with the rather disturbing phrase "have you heard this one?"!
So it certainly promises to be an interesting summer both on the field and in the Test Match Special commentary box.
Keep checking the TMS blog - I'll be writing again in a few days with details of the rest of our team for the first Test plus some of the other treats we have in store during our coverage from Lord's.
Plus, look out for exciting news shortly on our coverage of the ICC World Twenty20 and a fascinating project giving you a chance to unlock Test Match Special's Ashes Archive.