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Test Match Special

Wednesday 19 August 2009, 09:50

Mark Damazer Mark Damazer

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Alan McGilvray, Trevor Bailey, Freddie Truman, and Henry Blofeld, Test Match Special, Lords 1981

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.

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    Comment number 1.

    Mark, re TMS and Sky not being in perfect sync - if you listen to TMS on DAB radio and watch Sky on the normal channel (non HD) they are *close* to perfect sync.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Mark writes that "the programme of course is now online" but it can take quite a while to find it!

    There are *no* links to live listening that i can see from the Radio 4 Test Match Special page:

    The Radio 4 pages once again leave the online reader to look elsewhere around the BBC.

    I am an ardent fan of Radio 4, and TMS - "a defining part of R4's culture", says Mark - deserves better from the online team.

    Readers of this blog can listen online here:

    Good wishes

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Completely off-topic, but can I just say that..

    1/ Mark Lawson interviewing Victoria Wood on Front Row,


    2/ Peter White's entire series of 'No Triumph, No Tragedy'

    were excellent. Hope that No Triumph gets re-commissioned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Just listened to Today with foreign secretary calling the area between Pakistan and Afghanistan as the 'bad lands'. When I hear such a total generalization of a huge land mass, let alone mass of different tribes of peoples, I feel anger rising up because it is obviously a label that is meant to convey to the British public - its OK to bomb there. I would encourage the today program to interview Greg Mortenson, head of the Central Asia Institute who has been building schools specifically in that area for 10 year - 55 in fact that seek to really combat the issue of fundamentalism by providing an alternative education to Madrassas especially focused on women who stay in communities over the longer term and thus create real change. Greg is an American offering education to women in a strong muslim area, who is now loved by the people there. if he can create fundamental change without bombs and on an extremely tight budget, ($12,000 per school), so can we. Please interview him and please read his story - the best seller 'three cups of tea'

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    @nikki_noodle You're right. Radio 4's Test Match Special page is pretty thin. This is because the programme is produced by BBC Sport, which - as you'll understand - is pretty unusual for a Radio 4 programme. There's a more useful page on their web site. I've alerted the Radio 4 Interactive team. They might be able to add some more useful links to the Radio 4 pages.

    And @LordBeddGelert and @cornishclare, you are so far off-topic that I really ought to moderate your comments out. Please try to stay closer to the topic under discussion.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog


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Identifying the top ten game changers operating in the UK today.


See the latest on our blog


Find out about this year's panel and theme