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Switch-hits, new captains...and fishing rods

Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 12:26 UK time, Saturday, 6 September 2008

It was a real shame that the international summer ended with a damp squib at Cardiff as England's hopes of reaching second place in the one-day rankings were washed away by the Welsh weather.

All those at the Swalec Stadium deserved better for all the hard work they have put in to transform the ground - it will be fascinating to see what other changes we will see over the next 12 months before Cardiff hosts the first Ashes Test.

It may have been a soggy end to the summer - but if you think about it, what an amazing few months this has been for the England team and for the game of cricket in general.

When we gathered at Lord's in May for the start of England's international fixtures, Michael Vaughan was looking forward to his summer as Test captain and Paul Collingwood seemed to be growing into his role leading the one-day side.

The concept of a "switch-hit" was not on the radar, any talk of a "Champions League" was confined to discussions about Manchester United's triumph in Moscow and as for Steve Harmison, he'd never bowl for England again....would he?


And if I had told you in May that England's players would shortly be off to Antigua to play in a Twenty20 match where each man stands to win £500,000 each - you probably wouldn't have believed me!

The last few months have also seen huge controversy at The Oval over a run-out incident which was described by some in New Zealand as the most disgraceful event in the game since Trevor Chappell bowled his underarm ball.

There was the Champions Trophy saga, the debate over whether Zimbabwe would tour England next summer while plans for a franchise-based breakaway Twenty20 league in England were leaked and then dismissed as the ECB went for a new-look domestic structure starting in 2010.

This is just a flavour of the incredible last few months for the game - and I have barely mentioned anything that has happened on the field!

As for Test Match Special, it has been a busy but incredibly enjoyable summer in the box. And I thought it would be a good time to present a few end-of-international season awards.

You may may disagree...You may have a few nominations of your own.

New Cricket Commentary Phrase of the Summer:

A tie between Phil Tufnell's "he's been Feng Shui'd" to describe a batsman being bowled. "Feng Shui'd - he's 'ad his furniture re-arranged" and Jason Gillespie at Twenty20 finals day: "Graham Napier is bowling good holiday resorts - that's what you need at the death, get the ball in the block hole". Dizzy went on to explain: "Good holiday resorts ...Majorca!"

The Brian Johnston/Jonathan Agnew award for best on-air corpse:

Another dead heat between Christopher Martin-Jenkins following his infamous "Daniel Vettori keeps his rod down, so to speak" comment and the "Bearded Wonder" Bill Frindall bursting into hysterics when he worked out his "rock star" alias following Phil Tufnell's game of putting together the name of your first pet and your mothers maiden name.

Best View from the Boundary:

We've had an amazing summer of guests in the TMS box from Conservative leader David Cameron and former Labour leader of the Lords Baroness Amos to Lesley Garrett, Sir Tom Courtenay and Eric Clapton. But my favourite was Joel Joffe, the lawyer who defended Nelson Mandela in 1963. He shared some amazing stories and it was fantastic to meet him.

Champagne Moment of the summer

This is perhaps the most difficult of them all. Kevin Pietersen reaching a century on debut as England captain at The Oval would get lots of votes, as would Graeme Smith's brilliant century to win the Test series at Edgbaston.

But I think I'll go for another moment from the Test in Birmingham. Paul Collingwood, possibly thinking he was playing his last innings as a Test batsman, goes down the wicket to reach a hundred with a six just a few minutes after Pietersen had failed with a similar stroke. Amazing moment.

TMS Special Award

Again I think this should be shared, this time between three players. Michael Vaughan in recognition of his success as Test captain, let's hope he comes back as a top-class Test batsman. And also two players who are retiring at the end of the summer - Graeme Hick and Darren Gough.

Both have provided incredible entertainment over their memorable careers. Of course both Hick and Gough still have a few more weeks before they can put their feet up because even though the international fixtures may have ended, there is still much up for grabs in the County Championship and Pro-40.

Kevin Howells and the team will bring you extensive coverage of the climax to the domestic season on Five Live whilst keep an eye on the sport website for details on local radio commentary you can access on the key fixtures.

And don't worry, there will be plenty to keep you entertained during the winter months. Jonathan Agnew will lead our coverage of the Stanford Super Series starting at the end of October - watch out for more details.

We'll have ball-by-ball commentary on England's tour to India starting with the seven-game ODI series from the 14 November.

Indian legend Sunil Gavaskar will be part of our team which also includes Geoff Boycott, Vic Marks, Angus Fraser and for the first time the former England and Glamorgan batsman Steve James whilst "the analyst" Simon Hughes returns to TMS after his successful stint with us in Sri Lanka last winter, this time as a ball-by-ball commentator.

And more details of the rest of our winter coverage will also follow shortly, so watch this space.

And finally may I take this opportunity to thank you all for listening this summer and for contributing with your letters, calls, texts and e-mails.


  • Comment number 1.

    Thank You. We have all enjoyed it. Especially me as I have been on holiday for most of it and so the only way I could know anything was lstening to TMS and

  • Comment number 2.

    I hope the new team you have assembled develops well. Whilst I'm a fan of some of the new voices, most pleasantly surprising to me being Phil Tufnell, some I feel are not of a quality one has come to expect from TMS. I know you have explained your reasons and I respect the need for change, but I feel none of the new members add nearly as much insight as the likes of Mike Selvey.

    Moving with the times is a brave move, but also if it ain't broke...

  • Comment number 3.

    Whenever time has permitted, I have been listening to TMS this Summer, while working on a drilling rig in Kuwait. For me, live cricket is one of the great sporting experiences. Thank you all.

    I often think that radio commentary can be more interesting than TV. Commentators can fill in the gaps. I despair at the over rates in cricket nowadays.

  • Comment number 4.

    TMS has brought me much pleasure this summer and I am looking forward to the series in India. Shame about Mike Selvey though....

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm off to uni this winter, so my access to tv coverage of England's winter tours is going to be severely limited. I'm looking forward to some early morning starts with TMS in India, shame there's only two tests!

  • Comment number 6.

    As an overseas listener dependent on the internet, I have learned to expect being shut out of winter broadcasts, but am hopeful perhaps the TMS coverage of the Stanford series will be available via the internet. Mr. Stanford seems anxious to reach a US audience. Anything to report on that, Adam?

    Though the match itself is silly, hoping to tune into TMS one last time this year!

  • Comment number 7.


    Some very good moments of the summer season highlighted well there.

    Again, Tuffers has been great, what a revelation.

    Not much has been made of the England Women's superb series on the blogs here, will that be addressed shortly? Remember, cricket needs to be encouraged amongst both boys and girls.

    Any reason why there has been no answer as to why the BBC cricket scorecards do not include wides and no-balls in the bowling figures, together with no captain and wicketkeeper notation in the batting order?

    Many thanks,


  • Comment number 8.

    TMS was excellent this year, as ever.

    Tufnell is doing very well - it's great to listen to him and Alec Stewart and others during the breaks for rain.

    Whilst not wishing to speak ill of anyone, I think Henry Blofeld has been past his best for a couple of seasons and it's time for him to be put out to stud.

    Regarding Mike Selvey - how could you let someone go who described Angus Fraser as "like eyeore without the joie de vivre"?

  • Comment number 9.

    Dear Adam
    I have enjoyed listening to TMS this summer and, with one or two exceptions, think you have some excellent commentators and summarisers.

    I think special mention should be given to Jonathan Agnew, who gets better as each season goes by. My only recommendation would be that you award him a contract for life, if he hasn't got one already. When Aggers and Victor are on air together, I think TMS's commentary is at its very best.

    I would make a plea to bring back both the TMS quiz and 'At the Bookstall'. I particularly miss the latter.

    I am also saddened by the decision to remove Mike Selvey, who I feel is a very shrewd observer of the game and had a gift for helping the listener to understand the many twists and turns that come with a day's play.

    Looking forward to your winter coverage.

  • Comment number 10.

    As another season draws to a close a word of thanks to all at TMS for another great season of broadcasting.
    I echo some previous comments in realising that changes need to be made to ensure a fresh approach is maintained. However I am at a loss to understand the removal of Mike Selvey and the inclusion of Alec Stewart. The former provided a great insight into the game whereas the latter although undoubtedly having considerable first hand experience gives the impression that he is "far too close" to the current players.
    Keep up the good work and roll on next season and more exciting cricket and who knows maybe a long hot summer!

  • Comment number 11.

    As someone who relies on TMS for commentary, please consult with listeners before changing commentary teams wholesale.
    Mike Selvey is an astute summariser whose tone complements the chirpiness of others. I'm afraid top test players don't always make great comentators (see Sky...; with exception of Boycs). I've nothing against Alec Stewart, but he rarely says anything other than the obvious in his analysis and his opinion rarely deviates from the view from the dressing room.

  • Comment number 12.

    I'd like to echo Neyster's comments (7. above).

    If you want to do something really progressive and radical, how about covering women's cricket? It is the world cup next spring after all.

    I've made my comments about TMS changes elsewhere, but commenting on a blog is one thing, raising the matter officially another.

    Whilst I'm sure it would be preferred that we vent our spleens here, It would be much appreciated if the TMS website included a contact address, and a name and contact details for the relevent authorities that oversee TMS so that we could make our comments directly to those that need to be made aware of the strength of feeling about recent changes (ie above editorial level).

  • Comment number 13.

    Consider this one more voice questioning the decision to replace Mike Selvey - I always considered him head and shoulders above the other summarisers and am baffled as to why he has been replaced. Neither Graeme Gooch nor Alec Stewart are close to his level of analysis or wit. Fortunately I can continue to read his work in the Guardian, but it's certainly reduced my enjoyment of TMS.

  • Comment number 14.

    There have been a couple of mentions about women's cricket with the England team enjoying a fantastic year.

    I am delighted to say that Alison Mitchell will be providing extensive coverage of next years World Cup in Australia - the start of BBC Radio's biggest ever year covering the women's game. After the World Cup we'll be providing reports and commentary on the Women's World Twenty20 in England and then we'll have extensive coverage of the England's defence of the Ashes.

    More details of our coverage will follow later.

  • Comment number 15.

    Tuffers a breath of fresh air with wit, Boycott straight talking and dry humour, Aggers still great at his job, mr jenkins and Mr Blowfelt are I'm sorry to say, after years of service getting on my nerves. The constant getting names wrong, runs mixed up, how many Birds, Busses,and cakes do we need to hear about. When either commentate all the lads at work turn the radio over and were not the only ones.

  • Comment number 16.

    Tuffers has proved surprisingly insightful, but Gooch and Stewart's performances are as characterless and lacking in wit as their batting. Retaining their services whilst getting rid of Mike Selvey is a poor decision.

    I'm a young TMS listener, but would rather listen to what might be termed the "traditional" voices of Marks, Boycott, Agnew, Mann, CMJ or Bloefeld any day over Arlow White, Gooch, Stewart or Alison Mitchell. Angus Fraser is ok, but you sometimes feel that his outside role makes him the voice of the establishment. Tuffers is a great addition, not only for his innate character, but for his wit and his professional insight. Pollock also proved himself very quickly, and demonstrates that what TMS needs is not easily quantifiable - it's not neccesarily broadcasting experience, in sport or a successful international cricket career.

    Radio is a unique radio and cricket an unusual sport, and talking about it on air requires intelligence, wit, the ability to paint pictures with words and a complete understanding of the game. Good cricket journalists seem to be the best recruiting ground, so let's hope Steve James makes the transition. Please please keep the standards up.

  • Comment number 17.

    Incredible. Does Mr Mountford live in a parallel universe where he can just cover his eyes and happily ignore the real issues such as the response to the axing of Mike Selvey and the general direction in which the programme appears to be heading? Criticism has been extensive for a while on the TMS blogs. The response has been to close one blog to further comment- no doubt because the overwhelming majority of it has been scathing- and forget about this latest one. Sophocles, on comment 12 here, is right, we should be addressing ourselves to someone with some clout and leave Mr Mountford on his cloud of oblivion. Anyone got any ideas ?

  • Comment number 18.

    yeah my idea #17 is stop being such a stuck up toff. TMS like it has always been has been excellent, because life is constantly moving things change. what we dont need is luddites tuning in with their weary negativity.

    i must say though that its been far from a vintage season in cricket. the nz series was poor quality, and the south africa series was frustratingly over too quickly.
    1 change i think is stupid though is ending the summer with ODI, all international cricket has finished far far too early. why the ECB do things like this is beyond me, as no one seems to like it. perhaps TMS as the great institution it is could try and help induce a change here.

  • Comment number 19.

    Post 18 is too depressing to pass without comment.
    'because life is constantly moving things change. what we dont need is luddites tuning in with their weary negativity.'
    From this he infers that we should accept any change at all, even the worst possible change. Fool. And what precisely is 'Luddite' about protesting about removing the best, most efficient summariser TMS has had?
    I suppose he's referring to the complaints about the banal direction TMS is being taken in. Again, someone who seems to think that any change MUST be change for the better and charges anyone who resists with reactionary anti-modernism.
    The tragedy is of course that this sort of ill thought out view will exactly mirror that of Mountford/whoever is in charge.
    I think the truth of the matter is that no matter how much (justified) criticism there is on this blog, no-one is going to take notice of a blog. That's the lie behind the Five Live attitude of 'everyone can contribute/have their say/give their opinion'. Of course they can: and no one will pay any attention, because once people have had their say, it is assumed they will then shut up and be satifised/rightfully indignant with a clear conscience.
    Certainly it would help if another national newspaper reported on this. That might help a bit. And letters to the head of radio sport too.

  • Comment number 20.

    TMS, as far as I can gatherm is attempting to attract more listeners, of various ages and social standing.

    Now, to acheive this, some changes made will be unpopular with existing listeners. But as a business, if a change attracts more new listeners than loses existing ones, it's a good change.

    I am sure that all such decisions are thoroughly thought out and discussed at the highest level, and aren't simply made irrationally.

    Also, we as listeners arnn't privvy to all that goes on between employer and employee at TMS, so we aren't fully informed to comment.

    However, some changes will not be to the liking of some listeners, and therefore will be unpopular.

    The people making these decisions get paid alot of money to carry the burden of unpopular executive decisions.

    I'm sure who ever signed up Tuffnell was feeling the pressure. But Tuffnell is a hit (or not to some), but the general concensus from this blog is that Tuffnell is excellent. Who'd have thought that?

    Keep up the good work TMS.

  • Comment number 21.

    Good to hear that there will be more coverage of women's cricket.

    In the meantime the website reporters would do well to brush up. The front page currently cites 'Charlotte Taylor' as winning the ICC women's player of the year award. The captain's name is Charlotte Edwards, who beat Claire Taylor to it.

  • Comment number 22.

    #20. Ives16

    Top comment, well structured and presented.

    #21. Sophocles

    One might think that due to Charlotte Edwards winning the inaugural ICC Women's Cricket award a blog/article specifically about the women's game might be forthcoming. Sadly not.


    Thanks for saying that you will have some focus on the Women's game, that's certainly good news for the future. Just don't leave it until the domestic cricket season has completely finished, as the number of people who would view the article would surely be reduced.

    Obviously no news on the not very difficult notation/stats queries I raised then?

    I'll keep raising it until there's an answer I guess.


  • Comment number 23.

    Once again Adam's youth and immaturity are on show here. I count no fewer than four 'amazings' in his article, together with three 'incredibles', a 'real shame' not a 'shame', 'huge' controversy and the inevitable fatuous and unwanted football reference.

    Mr Mountford, hysteria does not a good article make. Your style might kindly be described as magniloquent. Less kindly it might be called tediously sensationalist.

    Just imagine if TMS commentary was conducted in this sort of fashion ...

  • Comment number 24.

    I was lying half awake in bed this morning, thinking of cricket, as one does!?..... and this popped into my mind; strange, but there you go.........

    `The Lords prayer`
    from the gospel according to the ECB.

    Our father who art in Kevin,
    hallowed be thy name,
    our time will come,
    the Ashes will be won,
    at the Oval we`ll be in heaven.
    Give us this day our daily cricket,
    and forgive us our losses,
    as we forgive Aussies for playing against us.
    and lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us victory,
    for ours is the Kevvie, the players and team,
    the power and glory,
    for ever and ever, our men.

  • Comment number 25.

    "Just imagine if TMS commentary was conducted in this sort of fashion..."

    It will be, No 24 PoliticalUmpire, just be patient.

  • Comment number 26.

    Jesus, No 25 tmsangry, you're ruining my weekend before it's begun. Can't we hound wet-behind-the-ears Mountford back to the football desk and get someone in who has even the vaguest appreciation of the values of TMS?

    Master Mountford could learn from the true master of cricketing commentary, Richie Benaud. Benaud once said never to use words like 'disaster' or 'tragedy'; the titanic was a disaster, the Ethiopian famine a tragedy, and neither bears any relation to a dropped catch.

    Of course if we succeed and Master Mountford is poured back into his bottle, there will be a vacancy for producer. As much as I'd like to send in my own cv, I am compelled to admit there are probably a few better qualified. Mike Selvey, for instance, is looking for a job these days I understand.

  • Comment number 27.

    I've really enjoyed the TMS coverage all Summer, great coverage which, admittedly, has been made much more enjoyable by the results England got toward the end.

    The commentary is always good, I particularly enjoy Aggers and Boycott's contributions. I love reading the blogs, and best of all the comments section where all the nation's angry, bored and slightly mad Mike Selvey lovers can come together and spout their arrogant nonsense. (I sometimes feel a little guilty sniggering at them, like when you see the crazy fat people on X Factor and you know you shouldn't laugh. I love this guy (26) offering his cv! Nutter!)

    Keep up the good work and bring on India!

  • Comment number 28.

    Sorry JulioGlassface? You enjoy sniggering at fat people? Well that's raised the level of debate.

  • Comment number 29.

    Re 27:

    1. It was a joke, you fool

    2. What I said was as much as I'd like the job (and who wouldn't), there are better people qualified, namely Mike Selvey. This, for the X-factor viewer-standard of commentator, was intended as a wry dig at Mountford and his cohorts for sacking Selvey when patently he'd be a better choice for their own jobs.

    3. Suggest you stick to watching X factor in future, where subtlety isn't the name of the game.

  • Comment number 30.

    The "Oh no I can't believe that just happened " award must surely go to Ian Bell for getting out on 199.


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