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TMS starts the series in style

Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 13:29 UK time, Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Despite the bad weather at Lord's it was a hugely enjoyable start to the summer in the Test Match Special commentary box.

CMJ's much celebrated "fishing rod" incident was one of many hillarious moments which also included Henry Blofeld renaming Ryan Sidebottom as Ryan Stringfellow.

"Yes, I know he's not the famous nightclub owner, but they do have very similar hair," he explained.

Jonathan Agnew very much enjoyed his "View from the Boundary" with soprano Lesley Garrett, especially when she insisted on touching his diaphragm to see if his dream of becoming the next Michael Ball had any chance of becoming a reality!


As for Phil Tufnell - there are almost too many funny moments to mention. After Daniel Vettori was clean bowled during New Zealand's first innings Tuffers told us that Vettori had been "feng shui'd"...

"What does that mean?" asked CMJ.

"Feng shui'd - he's had his furniture rearranged!" came the reply... Geoff Boycott was listening and went on to tell Phil how he was very much into feng shui and adopted the principles around his house. Boycott said: "we order our rooms using feng shui with chairs, tables, water features..." Phil interjected "Water features, do you mean the urinal?!"

After a slightly scruffy start to the Test match, Tufnell arrived on the second and third day wearing a suit. He wasn't quite so well dressed on day four but went on to explain: "I only wear a suit three days in a row if I'm appearing before a judge!". But Phil was genuinely thrilled to be presented with his Test Match Special Tie - so much so that when he appeared among the celebrity audience for a recording of an ITV show "An Evening with Neil Diamond" on Saturday night Phil excitedly told us "I kept my TMS tie on - you'll see it loads when they show the programme. Sir Tim Rice was also in the audience - he was really impressed".


You may or may not know that Sir Tim Rice, a cricket fanatic, was for a short while a Test Match Special commentator during the 1987 World Cup in India and Pakistan.

Alison Mitchell made a successful start to her new role as the Test Match Special roving reporter. Highlights included chasing Brendon McCullum down the road to hospital to get the latest on his arm injury and interviewing the Japanese cricket team who were watching at Lord's on Monday. At the start of last week when temperatures in London reached over 25 degrees, we were all jealous of her roving role - but I couldn't find too many volunteers to go out and about with her once the temperatures dropped and the rain fell.

Also our commentary team were rather intrigued by what was meant by Alison contributing to the new TMS Twitter. Well in case you are not sure it's a mini "blog from the boundary" where Alison sends her thoughts straight from the outfield at the ground to Twitter - and the latest update is pulled in on this blog on the right hand side. You can get a unique perspective on what is going on during the Test. Give it a go when we are at Old Trafford.

Talking about Manchester, the second Test gets underway on Friday and Jonathan Agnew will of course be leading our commentary team. He'll be joined at Old Trafford by Bryan Waddle and Simon Mann. Bryan's multi-coloured "Wellington Wanderers" blazer certainly lightened up some of the murky periods at Lords. Expert analysis will be provided by former Somerset and England spinner Vic Marks, ex-England and Middlesex pace bowler Angus Fraser and former New Zealand captain Jeremy Coney.

As I mentioned before, Coney is perhaps the only TMS summariser to have completed a postgraduate course in stage management and lighting design. He was telling us how he's been touring eastern Europe working on a theatre production.

As for Angus, he's just about got over his appearance in the England Legends side that took part in the beach cricket tournament over in Australia at the start of the year. The England team finished runners-up to a New Zealand side led by Martin Crowe. I asked Gus whether he was likely to be selected for next year's event. He replied: "oh yes, they told me I was box-office. The batsman kept hitting me into the sea..." His beach cricket captain Graham Gooch will also be with the BBC at Old Trafford working with Arlo White providing regular updates on 5 Live.

We are delving into politics again for our "View from the Boundary" guest at Old Trafford. Last summer Boris Johnson joined us in Manchester - whatever happened to him? This year we'll be joined by Baroness Amos, the former leader of the House of Lords. Born in Guyana, Amos became the first black woman to sit in the cabinet. She'll be providing us with a fascinating insight both into the world of politics and her love of cricket.

During the lunch interval on Sunday we'll be getting the latest on the "Chance to Shine" campaign which aims to revitalise competitive cricket in state schools and held a "National Cricket Day" on Tuesday 20th May. We'll be hearing from two well-known figures who are backing the campaign - Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England and actor Stephen Tompkinson who starred in the film "Brassed Off" and television programmes like "Wild at heart" and "Ballykissangel".

And we'll be getting all the latest news on the exciting developments taking place in the game including Sir Allen Stanford's plans and the possible English Premier League.

I want to thank you for all your emails, texts, calls and contributions to the TMS blog during the first Test - it's always great to hear from you and we really do appreciate you getting in touch. We'd like you to get involved at Old Trafford, so email or text 84040 and don't forget after play you'll be able to download Jonathan Agnew and Geoff Boycott's now legendary TMS podcast - which you can subscribe to now, to make sure you never miss it. All the details at

See you in Manchester!


  • Comment number 1.

    Pleased to see the much improved line up for the second Test. Will look forward to Vic and JA commentating together, which is usually very entertaining.

  • Comment number 2.

    My first test favorite moment, was when captain Michael Vaughn is compared to umpire Bucknor, in being able to walk his sheep through town. Hilarious!

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Adam - a tad confused, will Geoffrey be part of the OT team? He's not on your list, above, but you mention him doing the podcast with Aggers............neither is CMJ on your list, is he having time out to go fishing?

    The podcast is great, I first subscribed to it last winter, now it's a must on my iPod!

    Roll on Friday!

    Pam Nash.

  • Comment number 4.

    I was at lords on the Saturday and sat in front of what I shall charitably call some upper class buffoons (think Boris Johnson x 4!) who were moaning about Phil Tufnell, but I thought he did a pretty good job when I listened in. Alison Mitchell was a good addition to the team especially given the weather, just don't jump too often too her during play.

    A good line up for Old Trafford, Vic Marks is a favourite of mine, always irreverant without being disrespectful.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Adam, great blogn as ever

    Really enjoyed the first test of the summer, its always a highlight of the year.

    Love Blowers as ever and I'm pleased to have Alison Mitchell in the team in the reporters role, a good move.

    Looking forward to hearing from Simon Mann, Vic Marks and Graham Gooch over the two networks this weekend.

    I am sad about Pat Murphy not being involved. I do like Arlo White but Pat is the master at the test match reports, massive shame.

    Syds post #3 even though Geoof Boycott isn't on the TMS team like last season he will still be doing the nightly podcasts.

  • Comment number 6.

    Another question, why didn't Phil Tufnell get a TMS tie on his TMS debut in Sri Lanka a couple of tours ago?

    He made his TMS debut that tour as did John Murray and Jonny Saunders.

  • Comment number 7.

    Great to have Vic back next test - I always find his voice the most soothing when commenting on another England middle-order collapse.

    Also a big well done to Tuffers. I thought he was absolutely fantastic. Funny at times, vivid when describing the action and he brought out the best in all the other commentators too (which with Geoff Boycott is no mean feat!) Hope he's around for many years to come.

  • Comment number 8.

    I must agree with David Shield ll, Pat Murphy is one of the best sports reporters I have ever heard.
    A great line up for the 2nd test. Vic always brings a smile with his posh but slightly yokely boyish yarns.

  • Comment number 9.

    Loved Alison's Tweets. Also loved Aggers trying to understand what Twitter was. Very funny.

  • Comment number 10.

    In answer to some of the questions above.
    1) Both CMJ and Pat Murphy will be back for the Third Test at Trent Bridge.
    2) Phil Tufnell did not receive a TMS tie in Sri Lanka because traditonally ties were only given for appearances in home series.
    3) Geoff Boycott will be appearing regularly on Five Live during the Old Trafford test along with Graham Gooch and he will be back on TMS in Nottingham.

    I hope this answers your questions. Thanks for all the feedback. Cheers Adam

  • Comment number 11.

    Really enjoyed the 1st test and the line up you had for the first test of the summer. Jeremy Coney is a particular favourite, is he living in the UK at the moment as he seems to be around even when NZ are not involved?

    And Tuffers was great. Behind that 'diamond geezer' persona lurks quite an astute cricketing brain and he is marvellous entertainment. Stick to what you know Tuffers and look forward to more appearances on TMS.

  • Comment number 12.

    spot63, I believe that Jeremy is living full-time in England and has done for a little while now. Bit odd as his wife is still here in NZ doing netball commentaries for telly. Maybe they've broken up? Don't know.

    Look forward to hearing Vic again. He's a bit mad, but in a good way. :o)

    Speaking of, will Foxy Fowler be joining the commentary team at all?

  • Comment number 13.


    I wasn't the only listener to be shocked by Jeremy Coney's remark about Ross Taylor - the remark was "He isn't a New Zealander; he's from one of the Pacific Islands but I don't know which one". I don't want a witch hunt, but I don't think that I am being unduly "PC" in suggesting that Coney should make a public apology for the remark (as well as a private one to Taylor, of course). What is TMS's position on this serious faux pas?


  • Comment number 14.

    I had the pleasure of reading Blowers' autobiography recently. What a refreshing change from the monosyllabic ghosts of some of today's comtemporary sports "stars". I think only Athers has come close to matching it in recent years with his erudite observations.

    Perhaps a law should be introduced to prevent sports autobiogs being released until the subjects finally retire? At least then they may have actually led something approaching a life to muse upon.

  • Comment number 15.

    Censura - believe me, it wasn't half as shocking as finding out New Zealand now contains a city called 'Little Hutt' *raises eyebrow*

    I do stand to be corrected, but I believe what JVC said was that he didn't think Taylor was *from* NZ, which isn't the same thing as saying he's not a New Zealander. Given that JVC hasn't been resident in New Zealand for a while now it's understandable surely if he doesn't know the exact details of every player's birthplace. You didn't, after all. Unless it's the Pacific Islands comment which rankled you, in which case that's understandable on his part as well. How many Pacific Islands are there? Taylor is just as likely to refer to himself as a Samoan as he his to call himself a New Zealander.

    By the by, Aggers could also have been said to have belittled Samoan heritage(and I don't think he did either) by making fun of Murphy Su'a's surname, so why have you not jumped on him?

    JVC's wording was ill-chosen at worst, and hardly a 'serious faux pas,' let alone implicitly racist. I suggest you do what I did after hearing the South African commentary team make a complete hash of trying to pronounce Luteru Ross Poutoa Lote Taylor and then say that it was 'obviously Maori'...just take a deep breath, roll your eyes, let it go, and move on, for goodness sake.

  • Comment number 16.

    My first post, motivated by some concern about the direction TMS is taking, having listened for the best part of 40 years and always enjoyed the diversity of styles and voices and the balance of former players and broadcasters/journalists in the line-ups. The programme has moved on, rightly so, with younger commentators and analysts moving in but the greatest appeal of TMS has always been that most of the regulars have been people who can use language well while they bring their knowledge and love of the game to the audience. The introduction of Phil Tufnell is symptomatic of the trend to use 'lively' personalities, often recently retired players (on the assumption I suppose that they can give us an insight into what goes on in the dressing room and are on friendly terms with the current players) who expect to get by on banter instead of thoughtful comment. Nothing personal against Tufnell - a good man in the right place at the right time - but he's just not right for this role with TMS. I don't doubt he has a sharper cricket brain than might sometimes be apparent but he doesn't communicate this and we are left with not a lot more than a string of chat which adds nothing to the commentary. The BBC could just about get away with it on the Radio 5 cricket magazine/phone-in that he and then Darren Gough did but we need people with more insight and a bit of authority to provide the expert analysis required as part of the mix in the commentary box. This is not the same as being dull and worthy. Vic Marks manages to combine humour with interesting observation and Mike Selvey has developed into an excellent analyst [I hope he's still going to be involved this summer]. I think I'm about as far from the 'upper class buffoons' referred to above as you can get and so are the 7 friends I sat with in the Edrich Stand at Lords on Thursday but we were all disappointed with the quality and the repetitiveness of Tufnell's contribution as we listened in and hope TMS will remember why it continues to be essential and what it does best.

  • Comment number 17.


    The "Little" in place of "Lower" re. Hutt was a mental aberration - sorry!

    I think that Coney said that Taylor is "not a New Zealander." But you may be right that it was "not from New Zealand". Either way it was a crass thing to say. He went on to say that Taylor is an Islander but that he didn't know which island. Surely anyone who purports to comment on current Kiwi (Black Cap if you insist) cricket should be much better informed. Taylor is hardly a newcomer to the Kiwi side.

    Shortly after Coney's faux pas someone told him that Taylor's parentage was part Samoan, which, as they say "any fule should know."

    I await Coney's apology. I have not called him racist (an overused epithet) but I do call him ignorant, insensitive and stupid. He has a chance today at Old Trafford to make amends. I hope he does.

  • Comment number 18.


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