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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.

Comments

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  • Comment number 21. Posted by nikki noodle

    on 31 Aug 2009 10:36

    thanks, again, Steve!!

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  • Comment number 20. Posted by Steve Bowbrick

    on 26 Aug 2009 17:29

    @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

  • Comment number 19. Posted by astrolin

    on 24 Aug 2009 23:41

    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 18. Posted by Steve Bowbrick

    on 24 Aug 2009 14:51

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

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

  • Comment number 17. Posted by rupertbu

    on 24 Aug 2009 12:56

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

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  • Comment number 16. Posted by TV Licence fee payer against BBC censorship

    on 24 Aug 2009 11:04

    #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...

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  • Comment number 15. Posted by Steve Bowbrick

    on 24 Aug 2009 08:51

    @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

  • Comment number 14. Posted by TV Licence fee payer against BBC censorship

    on 24 Aug 2009 07:41

    #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?!

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  • Comment number 13. Posted by astrolin

    on 24 Aug 2009 04:41

    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

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  • Comment number 12. Posted by astrolin

    on 24 Aug 2009 04:33

    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.

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