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They think it's all Oval...

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Adam Mountford | 16:39 UK time, Monday, 17 August 2009

I had a funny feeling at the start of summer that, like in 2005, it would all come down to this final Test.

Of course, four years ago, it was England who required only a draw to reclaim the urn and, after Australia's emphatic victory at Headingley, the tourists clearly start this Oval Test as favourites to retain the Ashes.

Virtually everyone I have spoken to since that disappointment in Leeds seems to give England no chance of success in this Test match and let's be honest; the signs are not that great.

The Oval this summer has been a batting paradise and England have got to somehow take 20 wickets. Only one England batsman has scored a century in this series and, to use a sporting cliché, it is the Australian side who seem to have the momentum.

The Oval cricket ground, London

What is great about sport, however, is its unpredictability. Who really thought that South Korea's YE Yang would defeat Tiger Woods to win the USPGA golf on Sunday?

To think, only a few days before Headingley England went into the final day of the Edgbaston Test with a great chance to make it 2-0 in the series. At that point it was Australia who seemed in trouble as they were forced into a bold selection with Shane Watson replacing Phillip Hughes as well as their own last-minute wicketkeeping crisis as Brad Haddin was injured in the warm-up.

Despite all the speculation, it came as little surprise that England's selectors did not make drastic changes to the squad for The Oval. Much as the stories surrounding the likes of Rob Key, Marcus Trescothick and, of course, Mark Ramprakash kept us entertained for the past few days it would have been rare for Geoff Miller and his team to shock us with a leftfield selection (Darren Pattinson perhaps the only one in recent times).

As for our selection for The Oval, Jonathan Agnew will be leading the team alongside Christopher Martin-Jenkins and ABC Radio's Jim Maxwell with expert summarisers Vic Marks, Phil Tufnell and Matthew Hayden. "Haydos" knows all about playing for Australia in an Ashes decider at The Oval having scored 138 at the ground four years ago, whilst Tuffers famously took 11 wickets to help England record a dramatic Ashes Test victory at The Oval back in 1997. Our TMS scorer Malcolm Ashton will be keeping a close eye on the statistics whilst Alison Mitchell will be out and about as our Test Match Special reporter.

The extra element to this game is that its also the final Test match for Andrew Flintoff and during the lunch interval on Thursday we'll be paying a tribute to "Freddie", including a special interview looking back on his Test career.

We'll hear from some of the well-known names coming along to the Oval for the Test including actor, writer, comedian, author, television presenter, film director and national treasure Stephen Fry joining us at tea on Thursday and singer/songwriter Lily Allen who will be our special guest on Saturday to talk about how she has become hooked on the game. As you may have read in previous blogs, Allen, known for best selling songs like "Smile" and "LDN", has been writing on Twitter about listening to TMS through the summer and has even expressed her desire to become a cricket commentator when her pop career comes to an end. After joining us she will be making her way to Chelmsford as one of the headline guests at the V Festival alongside another big cricket fan and former TMS guest, Razorlight's Johnny Borrell.

As well as ball-by-ball commentary on Test Match Special there will be extensive coverage on other BBC outlets: Pat Murphy and guests including Graham Gooch, Jason Gillespie, Dean Jones and Mark Butcher will provide updates every 15 minutes on BBC Radio 5 live whilst Richard Bacon and Simon Mayo will be presenting their 5 live programmes on Thursday and Friday from The Oval with Mark Pougatch hosting 5 live Sport from the ground on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. David Garrido will be live there, too, for Radio One. There'll also be extensive coverage on BBC London and look out for the legendary daily TMS podcast with Aggers and Geoff Boycott.


  • Comment number 1.

    Why is Agnew called Aggers? Why is Tuffnell called Tuffers? Mystified.
    Geof Miller looks fat. He was a very average cricketer when he was slimmer. How he's ended up being in charge of the selectors or even on the team I'll never know. Gooch and Boycott have more insight. Key should have come in at three. Now is no time to debut someone. I'm rather tired of seeing the schoolboy Bell fail. An empty taxi drew up and Bell got out. Where are ye now KP? And, why, oh, why was the first test awarded to Cardiff on the basis of bidding. ECB heads should roll. Should have played that one at Lords and we'd have a couple kicks at the can to win it. Now we have one match and Lee is fit. Selectors, ECB, your a bunch of losers. Only Flintoff can save it and that's a lot to ask.

  • Comment number 2.

    i hope the stephen fry bit will be available as a podcast as i'll not be home in time!

  • Comment number 3.

    It was Stephen Fry's delightful recounting of his hand-wringing in the garden during the 2005 Ashes that finally intrigued me into following cricket. I can only hope bodes well for this go round. I suffered through the whitewash of '07, lets win them back in '09!

    Thanks for your terrific coverage. Couldn't be better.

    Chris Sobolowski
    US of A

  • Comment number 4.

    What a gloomy picture you paint, don't you believe in fairy tales.
    Once upon a Thursday in the merry month of August, a great battle was looming between two great nations, one bore the emblem of the three lions,brave,fearless and a force to be reckoned with. The others came from a far off land and had in their possesion the holy grail and were not going to have it taken from them in this final bloody battle.
    The battle raged on for four days with neither side ready to give up the great fight. On the fifth day from the clearing mist there came an imposing figure of huge stature..It was Sir Freddie of Lancaster coming to the rescue, he came thundering into the fray and the men from the far away land were cut down one by one until none were left on the field of battle, he picked up the holy grail and said " England is your rightful place"...hang on my Alarm clock has just gone off.

  • Comment number 5.

    #1: The nicknames come from their surnames, see...

    Would I be right in assuming from this article that Blowers (there's another one) won't be part of the commentary team?

  • Comment number 6.

    Fantastic coverage TMS, very glad to hear that Matthew Hayden is part of the team again, he is excellent. Tuffers too, for a bit of a laugh - a great combo with Blowers - as Estesark asks, is he in the squad? If not, why not?

  • Comment number 7.

    Think positive, we can do it. My only worry is how to listen whilst in deepest Dordogne - any hints?

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    cosmicsandy98 wrote:
    Think positive, we can do it. My only worry is how to listen whilst in deepest Dordogne - any hints?

    As long as you have access to the internet, it's not a problem. I live in the south west of France (Pau to be exact) and listen to complete coverage via the TMS commentary...haven't missed a test yet. Great to see that Tuffers and co are involved again, although even as an Aussie, I find myself cringing at Matthew Hayden's accent at times! Won't miss Blowers though - he has comic value for about 5 seconds and then his accent grates me to a point that makes Hayden sound normal.

    As an Aussie, I would love to think that the urn will return home again after this test match, but as Adam mentioned above, one of sports' greatest elements is its unpredictability. No result would really surprise me - what would surprise me though is a full 5 days play without weather interruptions, thus making it that bit harder for the 3 lions to bowl the Aussies out twice. Freddie's farewell will inspire the team, and they'll need every ounce of that adrelin to regain the Ashes.

    Like most observers, I think a draw seems most likely. Having seen that Bopara has finally been dropped, but that Bell is still there (and actually batting at the 3!), I think the Aussie quicks will fancy their chances again. I'm not too keen on Brett Lee joining the team for the final test - I think his inclusion could detract from what is already a great bowling combination thus far. By all means bring him back into the fray for the next series the Aussies play in, but if it ain't broke and all that....

    Finally, good luck to all you Poms...has been great test cricket again and look forward to the final test, and plenty more epic Ashes battles in the future. May the best team win!

  • Comment number 10.

    In answer to a couple of posts. Henry Blofeld unfortunately will not be with us at the Oval - he is unavailable because of other commitments. But rest assured Blowers fans he will be back during the forthcoming ODI series. In answer to listening "in deepest Dordogne" ... can you get online if so you can follow our commentary at
    I should also mention if you can't wait for Thursday for your fix of Ashes drama then you must check out the brilliant TMS Ashes Archive. All the details at The archive goes back as far as the 1928/29 series where Don Bradman made his Test Match debut and Walter Hammond inspired England to a four one series victory, but it also includes more recent action including the best moments from the 2005 series.
    And whilst I'm plugging things look out for the latest edition of "TMS -The Mitchell Show" Alison Mitchell's behind the scenes look at the Test Match available soon plus there are two Radio Four programmes that may interest you. "The Reunion" is focussing on the Kerry Packer revolution with guests including our own CMJ plus Tony Greig and Jeff Thomson. Its broadcast on Sunday 23rd August at 11.15am (rpt Friday 28 Aug at 9am)and Dave Podmore offers his Ashes thoughts on Radio Four on Wednesday 19th August from 2300.

  • Comment number 11.

    I posted this on the tail-end of the previous blog, but perhaps it's better put here:

    I would like to hear a TMS lunchtime broadcast on the topic of cricketing youth. Who might be facing up to the Aussies in 4 or 6 years' time? I adduce a few names that have caught my attention, but what says expert opinion? How good are any / all of the following, and more?

    Cobb (Leics)
    Northeast (Kent)
    Bairstow (Yorks)
    Vince, Dawson (Hants)
    Harris (Glams)
    Finn, Godleman (Middx)

    I'm sure there are more. Who are they? Above all, I'd like this feature as a guide to my own ports of call around the county scoreboards.

  • Comment number 12.

  • Comment number 13.

    Does this mean that Sir Geoffrey won't be in the TMS box for the final test? And no Blowers either? It's all looking a bit too bland for my liking.

  • Comment number 14.

    I have been told by Blowers that he will be at the Oval but not commentating on TMS . Can't imagine anything that would prevent him from commentating as well as fulfilling other ' commitments ' . Please Bring Back Blowers!!

  • Comment number 15.

    Good news that Blofeld will not be there. Too many mistakes, too much waffle.
    Boycott should be there. Always good value, and better than Tufnell who seems to feel he is there as a comedian. Although Ian Chappell was the best by far.
    Stephen Fry/Lily Allen? Forget it. Being well known does not make them interesting. Much better when there are interviews with cricketers.

  • Comment number 16.

    First, you present the popular, or Aggers, view, typically British worst of all possible world's, that only thinks of Headingley and doesn't give much chance to England in this Test. You follow this with what I would call the rational view. Presenting this match in the context of the series, which indicates that England have a good chance at the Oval. I go with the latter. England's batsmen are not stupid. If just two or three of them determined to apply their intelligence to batting, and didn't play lofted shots to where there are fielders, then we would score enough runs to win. As to wicket taking, we've done it before with these bowlers, and can do it again. Bowl 90% to hit the stumps and leave the short, wide stuff as shock tactics. Luck will do the rest!

  • Comment number 17.

    He was a very average cricketer when he was slimmer. How he's ended up being in charge of the selectors or even on the team I'll never know.


    Great sportsmen rarely make great coaches or managers. It is usually those with more limited skill (who had to work harder and smarter to even make it in the game at all) who end up being better.

  • Comment number 18.

    This is of course a complete one off, past exploits will mean nothing, sportsmen who talk abotu momentum when there is a gap of over a week between fixtures are plainly mentally weak, the strongezst would not anythign other than ability and tactical nouse.

    Lilly Allen being brought in is good, if she genuinely does like cricket and knows a thing or two then perhaps she will generate some interest with kids that wouldn't otherwise bother. But if she is going to be involved is there any reason why we can't unleash her on a drunken singing spree through the Aussies hotel at 4am on Thursday? :)

  • Comment number 19.

    Stephen Fry, well, yes fair enough he does attend a lot of matches. But Lilly Allen, what the hell is that in aid of. It's test match special, not "do you know who my dad is" or "cor, I meant it to be realy meaningfull innit"...............Beware TMS you don't turn into channel four

    PS And I am NOT an old geezer !!

  • Comment number 20.

    Boycott and Tufnell - honest, forthright and amusing.
    The Aussies - steady.
    Aggers, Blowers, CMJ - terribly outdated, lost from modern reality,upper-middle class public schoolboys. CMJ, especially, never gets anything right, can't even tell the difference between Flintoff and Bell. If I made so many mistakes in my job, I'd be sacked.

  • Comment number 21.

    I fear for England at The Oval. Before Headingly, the momentum was with them, but now.............oh dear oh dear.

    With Flintoff in danger of breaking down at any moment, the selectors must be holding their collective breaths every time he comes on to bowl.

    They must also worry about the batting of Cook, for his technique makes him look so vulnerable at times. Why the great concern? Because at No3 we have Bell: talented though he may be, he is no No3 - and certainly not against the Aussies. They have worked him over and worked him out.

    After him comes the new boy Trott. AT 295-2 he could succeed, but 17-2 is another matter.

    Then there's Colly. .....a whole chapter could be written about him at the moment. Which Colly will turn up? The fighter and the grafter, or the tentative and uncertain man we saw at Leeds?

    I can see another batting disaster for England - even if they win the toss. All out for not many, they will do well to stay with the Aussies for more than 3 days. If the coin falls the wrong way for Strauss, the humiliation could be sad to behold. With the other bowlers getting nought for plenty, Strauss may well have to turn to a suspect Flintoff to gain some respectability to a team which has suffered from poor selection.

  • Comment number 22.

    Isn't Blowers batting at 3!?

  • Comment number 23.

    Mr have summed up our worst fears perfectly...but lets just rewind for a few months. Would you (we) have settled for 1-1 going into the final test at a ground where Freddie and Harmy will be at their most effective? I think the answer would be yes. Another thing which will (or should) fire them up are the derisory remarks from Justin Clanger.
    And finally, this is the greatest game these England players are ever likely to play in, this is what they dreamed of in their youth, the pinnacle, it does not get any bigger than an ashes decider. So every ounce of effort, blood sweat and tears should be spent on this final battlefield....England expects.

  • Comment number 24.

    To all those objecting to Lily Allen being part of TMS, I suspect you are harumphing over a young woman intruding into the middle aged male bastion purely because she is "young" and "a woman". Given the success of our women cricketers, surely we can move into the 21st century?

  • Comment number 25.

    Sorry, TMS, I used to watch the telly with the radio on, but you're now being blown away by the Sky team.
    Sky getting Warnie was a real coup, his insights are on a different level. Can we have him as Chair of selectors, coach and captain?

    PS... just need to palm Hussain off to Talk Sport....

  • Comment number 26.

    what about Lord Henry Blofeld? Where is he for the climax?

  • Comment number 27.

    I agree with others on the subject of TMS celebrity " whose going to give me out in here" I have nothing against Lily Allen..mmm or Stephen Fry but this is the big one for TMS as well as the is a shame Blowers will not be sparring with Tuffers they compliment each other so well, chalk and cheese so to speak. So we don't mind people popping in during lunch or tea but please keep a sense of perspective dear boy.

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    Really am excited about this, especially after watching YE Yang do the impossible against Tiger Woods on Sunday!

    Disappointing commentary lineup though: no Blowers or Boycott. Can't imagine what other commitments Blowers would have in the week of a deciding Ashes test! If he's there, get him in. As for Boycs, he's the best, most incisive and brilliant commentator in the world: he's inevitably fifteen minutes ahead of the game, and is never dull. He should be there every test.

    I agree with cynicalyorkie that Warne is very good in the box; I still mostly watch the TV with the radio on, but the gap is closing. A dream team would be him, Boycott and Blowers: Warnie and Boycs for the expertise, comedy ("my grandma coulda 'it 'it wi'a stick o'rhubarb"), and in the latter's case occasional magnificent rant; and Blowers for his otherwordly charm and impeccably timed wisecracks about Boycott's selfishness!

    As for Lily Allen, I'm in my 20s but I don't believe she belongs on TMS. Putting aside the fact she'd be nowhere if not for her famous father, her latest song is titled "***k you", and elsewhere she sings about crack whores and drug use. Yes, yes, I know all these things do happen out on the mean streets of real life, but do we really have to bring such a world into TMS? I'll take chocolate cakes, Boycott anecdotes and Stephen Fry's handwringing instead, please.

  • Comment number 30.

    Delighted to hear that the venerable Mr Fry will be popping into TMS towers. Is there any chance he could be given Geoff Miller's job, too? And perhaps bat at number three?

    I'm sure he'd do rather better than the current incumbents.

  • Comment number 31.

    hunterSWestHam asks, why Aggers, why Tuffers.
    These wonderful nicknames were created by the famous (and much missed) Brian Johnston. Everyone had such a nickname, either created by him or from other sources, which he was happy to perpetuate.

    Trevor Bailey was "The Boil" and Don Mosey was "The Alderman". These nicknames were created elsewhere. But Brian had names for others such as the unsurpassed Australian commentator, Alan McGilvray, who had to answer to "McGillers", Henry Blofeld is "Blowers" and the excellent Bill Frindall was "Bearders".

    Christopher Martin-Jenkins is, simply, CMJ and there were many others.

  • Comment number 32.

    "England's batsmen are not stupid."

    Do you have any evidence of this?

  • Comment number 33.

    Boycott and Tufnell - honest, forthright and amusing.
    The Aussies - steady.
    Aggers, Blowers, CMJ - terribly outdated, lost from modern reality,upper-middle class public schoolboys. CMJ, especially, never gets anything right, can't even tell the difference between Flintoff and Bell. If I made so many mistakes in my job, I'd be sacked.


    I think the TMS team works exceptionally well - theres a good blend of the sublime and the ridiculous - how else could it be the most entertaining broadcast i've come across in any medium.

    as for those moaning about the lilly allen interview - its 10 minutes from a 5 day match, its hardly going to ruin proceedings - make a cup of tea or something....

  • Comment number 34.

    I just wanted to say; keep up the good work. TMS is a national treasure, one of my favourite things in the world.

    Although I am of course crushed that Henry will not be commentating on the final test. Him and Tufnell together is priceless radio.

  • Comment number 35.

    Oooh I'm ever so glad Henry Blofed is the supreme omnipotence, 'cos I'd never heard of him otherwise.

    When they bury Bell, Flintoff and Harmison after this match could someone please put stakes through their hearts to stop them coming back again?

  • Comment number 36.

    TMS is a pretty broad church, i like the mix, and aggers in particular is superb, i doubt 5 per cent of listeners would agree with kafkafil that he is outdated... but the few people who just don't 'get it' should get their cricket news from elsewhere and probably shouldn't be on this blog...

    yes a shame for blowers to miss this one, i know he's been at the edinburgh fest - perhaps these were the 'other commitments'... no mention from adam about what boycs is up to, i know he had a spat with hayden but thought this had blown over?

    my only small aggers criticism is that his end-of-play articles don't permit comments. i know there were hundreds each day, but surely that's a sign of a successful blog? full marks adam for actually reading and occasionally responding to comments, that's what it's all about...

  • Comment number 37.

    Please please not Lily Allen!!! Shes omnipresent enough on the radio/tv/newspapers without invading the last place in the media where I find peace, TMS.

    If there must be a celeb, then let it be someone with a bit of knowledge, not just some Twinky Ashes-Come-Lately pop star.

  • Comment number 38.

    Totally agree with GoldCeasar, the TMS mix of commentary, sarcasm, stories and analysis is a good mix. I love hearing boycs go off on one about the lack of patience in batsmen these days, blowers recalling a bradmen moment, aggers wondering what's for lunch, tuffers and his schoolboy antics in the commentary box, all good entertainment and wonderful to listen to while chilling out in the garden!

    Keep up the good work.


  • Comment number 39.

    My daer old thing - its public school slang. Cricket is somewhere where we all like to regress to our childhoods.

  • Comment number 40.

    Hi Adam

    Please can you tell me if there will be the usual TMS radio coverage of the ICC Champions Trophy from South Africa which starts next month?

    Will you be able to also show TV highlights like you did for the ICC World Twenty20?

    There is no mention of any BBC radio or TV coverage here...

    [I know the live TV coverage is on Sky Sports.]

    It was great having the World Twenty20 highlights on the BBC, and I think these were done very well. Does the BBC have any other cricket TV rights at the moment?


  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    Is Lilly Allen a BBC attempt to make cricket more appealing to teenagers? Probably. How sad that everything needs "celebrity endorsement" before some people pay attention to it.

  • Comment number 43.

    I am so glad that I will be at the Oval everyday of the Test, listening to the excellent Sky commentary. I am sorry TMS, your obsession with celebs especially Lily Allen, who will no doubt bring her own refreshing and enervating way (sic) of relaxing at lunchtime to the TMS studio, has finally made me decide to ditch my radio and buy the Sky one at the ground. Who would want to miss the Warne Masterclass anyway? I wouldn't.

  • Comment number 44.

    Do you think Australian radio is as partisan as TMS's English contingent? I no longer find Boycott remotely amusing - he's boorish, rude and inarticulate. He has absolutely no grace and little wisdom about the game. If he had such a fine grasp of the sport and humanity (as he thinks he has) perhaps he might of cut it as a captain and a person. Sadly, he is lacking on both counts.
    On the other hand the Australians on TMS are knowledgable, urbane and witty.

  • Comment number 45.

    TMS take note, your fans are deserting you faster than rats on a sinking ship...Blowers and Boycs are national treasures, at times during the Headingley test I thought I was listening to Channel 9 in Australia,
    with so many ex-aussie players on air for so long.
    Surely you realise the charm of all the regulars makes the programme what it is, an iconic bastion of crickets finest commentators.

  • Comment number 46.

    England are going to be destroyed. We have the worst middle order of all time and our bowlers aren't much better. Stand by for crowing, braying Australians.

  • Comment number 47.

    Blowers out of the final test Why? Other commitments!*? Or more to the point, why would anyone want to listen to Ian Chappell? I once saw him commentating on cricket's most infamous moment - his brother Greg telling his brother Trevor to bowl underarm, as if butter wouldn't melt.

  • Comment number 48.

    come on guys. We love Blowers. We don't mind if he gets things a bit wrong occasionally. It all adds to the entertainment. We will miss him for this last test.
    Come on England - we believe in you. The last test match was just to make the series a bit more exciting!

  • Comment number 49.

    As long as the legendary Ben Dirs is doing the text commentary I couldn't really give a monkey's as to who's doing TMS commentary because it's too irritatingly cosy to listen to for any length of time. I just use it to fill in a few details if the text is slow to update! For what it's worth however, it will be marginally less irritating without Blofeld, and it would be nice if the celebrities who were invited on actually had some talent in their chosen field, unlike Lily Allen who can't even sing. I know this because I watched some of her live Glasto performance, which was useless and revealed how feeble her singing voice actually is and also that she can't sing in tune.

    I'll wager that if Geoff Boycott had to commentate on her singing he would be saying "I can't believe she keeps singing the same old rubbish song after song, it's just rubbish this is, they should give her a breather and bring on someone who can deliver with perfect pitch, good line and length, Beyonce Knowles maybe ... 'cos Allen is just serving up total rubbish ..." and he'd be absolutely right would old Boycs.

    Anyhow, I don't have a lot of faith in Bell, Collingwood or Trott but I think one or two of Prior/Flintoff/Broad/Swann/Anderson may, just may, do something extraordinary with the bat when the chips are down. I was there at Sophia Gardens when Jimmy and Monty stood firm on the last day and we left the stadium chanting their names - remember the spirit of Cardiff!

    And I know that whether conditions are helpful or not at the Oval Freddie will deliver some spells of sustained very fast and accurate bowling and put the Aussies under pressure, sadly something that no other English bowler is capable of doing. He is a legend and I hope he goes out on a high, he surely deserves it.

    My leftfield selection for the Oval would be Adil Rashid instead of Monty, surely he would offer at least as much with the ball and certainly more with the bat, and it would have an element of genuine surprise for the Aussie batters having to deal with some legspin. As it's essentially a one-off Test, I don't think his confidence would suffer unduly even if he doesn't perform.

  • Comment number 50.

    Okay sweaty palms, terrible headaches, waking up in the middle of the night screaming - swine flu? NO just nervous about Thursday, tickets for the Oval, months of planning and I'm so excited, will have TMS playing in my ear, can't wait to hear Stephen Fry on Thursday Play up Boys Play up, by the way I'm the chick in the 'I love Colly' shirt!!

  • Comment number 51.

    thanks for the hints about tuning in in Dordogne- but won't have internet so guess I'll just have to play with the SW dial...

    Aggers, Tuffers, Blowers, CMJ and Geoffrey can't be beaten - quintessential TMS. If they don't appeal then Sky is for you - leave TMS to the old fogeys. Allez Freddie

  • Comment number 52.

    we need blowers the guys a genius, and i cant understand why there getting lily allen all she's there for is to drool over graham onions. i cant understand the bbc, not having boycott and blowers both make me laugh and will surely be missed on tms. oh well i expect there trying to go all glamour lol.

  • Comment number 53.

    I'm sorry Lily, but you, a criket commentator? Fat chance.
    Just about fair enough to have her on for an interview, that is if she is a genuine fan, but I must admit that it rankles a bit: just because she has a famous dad and has sung a few songs, she gets the honour of being on TMS.
    The idea of her being a commentator is just not on though. And I'm not being sexist or ageist, since I am both female and young. The reason she shouldn't be a commentator is that there is no reason why she should be one. Sure, she may be a listener, but how many others of us are there?
    Stick to singing Lily.

  • Comment number 54.

    Actually, Lily Allen doesn't even have a very famous dad.
    Not very famous amongst me, that is. Maybe if I look him up I might recall him, but why would I do that?

    Stephen Fry, however, is a well known time-served cricket fan who merits attention.

  • Comment number 55.

    Well now! I have to confess I'd never heard of Lily Allen until she appeared in this blog; nor do I have any idea who her famous father might be - unless perhaps Chesney Allen! Is that it?

    Meanwhile, I think we have a cricket match on tomorrow!

  • Comment number 56.

    Graemenix, sorry, I can't let you get away with saying that Boycott has "little wisdom about the game"; that is as ridiculous a comment as I have ever seen on these boards. Yes, he is an abrasive character, and was somewhat selfish as a batsman and player, and you clearly don't like him. But his knowledge and experience of the game are second to none, and he is never dull: surely these are the two most important qualifications for a seat on TMS.

  • Comment number 57.

    Btw fleetjackhobbs, Lily Allen is a trendy, foul-mouthed "urban" singer who largely chronicles societal dysfunction. Her father, without whose patronage it is highly unlikely her "talent" would have been noticed - is the actor Keith Allen.

    I don't have a problem with "celebs" per se: the Russell Crowe interview was great, because the man clearly has a longstanding love of, and family link to cricket. But getting some singer in who only heard of the game 15 minutes ago, and whose main attraction appears to be the name and stance of Graham Onions, is rather demeaning to the national treasure that is TMS.

  • Comment number 58.

    I an enlightened.
    If you had asked me of the first "Allen" that came to my mind, I would have said "Keith Allen", not expecting it to be either true, or helpful to his daughters career (not on TMS, at least).
    I often thought him to be an underestimated actor and comedian!

    However, Lily hasn't gone up (a lot) in my estimation because, living in the US and watching no TV, I know little about her.

  • Comment number 59.

    Many thanks Darth_Blader. Your info makes me quite relieved to live in a mediaeval, walled city.

  • Comment number 60.

    Re TMS:
    Golly, I thought all the moaners had vented their spleens on the blog with Lily Allen's name in the title. Apparently people just have alot of spleen to vent! Give her a chance. You actually don't need to know a huge amount about cricket to be an entertaining guest on TMS (and for all we know, she might be quite knowledgable). An interview can be perfectly interesting simply for the different perspective someone can offer on a world that is very familiar to the rest of us. TMS shouldn't just be for the over-50s and people who are simply anti anything that is vaguely modern. Everything changes, and institutions like TMS will only change for the better by taking the odd risk.

    For what its worth, my top 3 TMS commentators for this series have been:

    1 - Tuffers: Very funny and also able to offer a surprisingly astute insight into the game and the players especially. Wasn't expecting that, but he's been a joy. Something about spinners seems to give them a very different and interesting perspective.

    2 - Haydos: Found him grating at first, but he endeared himself to me following has little 'chat' with Boycott early on. Since then he has been excellent.

    3 - Aggers: A safe pair of hands, more opinionated than he is given credit for, whether one agrees with him or not.

    Re the actual tets: Afraid I can't see England pulling this one off. I think the line up is close to what I would have picked (though I would have had Key in place of Bell), but still not strong enough to a) post a commanding total (by which I mean 550+) if we bat first, or b) bowl out the Aussies if they bat first before they can do the same.

  • Comment number 61.

    Some very bitchy comments about the 'public school' culture. I'm not a member of it, but I prefer it to the modern, dumbed-down, adults-with-the-mentality-of-children culture that the BBC seems to embrace now. Which is why my radio will be turned on during play, and off during the lunch break.

  • Comment number 62.

    Im desperate for England to win tomorrow and wouldnt it be great to win when we have to rather than unexpectedly or by a series of flukes. Id like the players to show more character. We need a Washbrook, Shepherd or May. Poor old Ravi and Belly dont have it. Comprehensive education has made us soft.

  • Comment number 63.

    I am quite sure that the TMS team will deliver, and the production will be up to their usual high standards - set over so many years. In the days before we could afford a television set, I used to listen to TMS on my 'portable' (it weighed more than a house-brick) radio.

    I can still recall listening to John Arlott painting pictures of the English and Australian players fighting it out at Lords in 1961. His voice seemed to be synonymous with the game I was beginning to love as a boy. At the inaugural World Cup it was the great Arlott who described Clive Lloyd's four over mid-wicket as " of a man hitting the top off a thistle with a walking stick........". Great stuff!

    One of my other abiding memories is that wonderful Australian Alan McGilvray commentating with (summariser) the forthright Trevor Bailey. At the fall of a wicket, McGilvray was trying to describe exactly how the unfortunate batsman had met his end:

    McG: "It was a good ball, which seemed to do a bit off the pitch, and I think it moved a little in the air - it could have done him for pace, but I think it was the movement which did for him in the end. It was one of those balls you hope not to get early in your innings - a dream delivery if you are a bowler - and by the time the batsman had got himself into some sort of position to play it, it had rapped him on the pads. Even then I thought he was a trifle unlucky to be given out, as it could have been missing leg..........what do you think Trevor?"

    Bailey: "Straight ball, played down the wrong line - plumb!"

    I think it was the unfortunate McG who was the victim of one of Johnners' pranks. BJ waited for Alan to take an enormous mouthful of cake, and then asked him to comment on the last delivery.

    Happy memories and a proud tradition. I think Steven Fry will make sure the standard remains at least QI.

  • Comment number 64.

    Hi Adam, thanks for the details of the comms team! For those asking, Henry is, indeed, at the Edinburgh Festival:

    The comms team is excellent, I'll miss Henry, but the rest are gold-plated anyway. Vic, Aggers and Tuffers are my personal favourites but, as the saying goes, you can't please all of the people.............

    As for Mr Fry and Ms Allen, great, bring them on! I'm by no means a spring chicken (3 years from bus-pass!!) but I'm open minded and willing to give anyone a chance - it amuses and baffles me, in equal measures, that most of those complaining either have never heard of her or know nothing about her! I'm certain that Adam or Aggers will have chatted to her and made the decision that she will be good value - I happen to trust their judgement, they haven't failed me yet. By the way, I'm one of the ones who watch it on Sky but listens to the TMS commentary - I miss Bumble, but, hey, can't have it all.

    As for the Test itself, if I'd been a selector I'd have treated it as a one-off and gambled the house; Key in, Ramps in and give 'em hell! I am optimistic, weather permitting, that England can do it – I’ll be hanging a ‘Do not disturb’ sign on my front door for 5 days!

    Pam Nash

  • Comment number 65.

    Come on guys these Aussis have got the measure of us. With no batting from 3 to 7 the middle order is a shambles. This is how it will go:-
    Aussis to win the toss and bat,will score over 600 runs in 2 and a half days with Watson and Ponting plundering. Bowl our guys out twice and be all over by Sunday night. We've learnt nothing apart from knowing these guys are far more talented than us, they have learnt how to motivate and encapsulate the raw talent from YOUNG players. Sorry to say it but we are in for a thrashing.

  • Comment number 66.

    Re 57. Darth blader, well said that man!

  • Comment number 67.

    Strauss says " we have learnt from our mistakes at Headingley" Jeez!!! an under 11s second XI vice captain could have worked out after 2 overs that the England bowlers were bowling too short, when it should have been pitched up and just bowl a decent line and length and the pitch had enough demons to get wickets...and as for the middle orders' continual batting swipes outside off stump to get themselves out...didn't any of the England batsmen watch Clarke & North at Edgbaston and then Headingley leave everything outside's not difficult

  • Comment number 68.

    If we win - and we might - it would be brillinat; BUT the fact is that we are seeded 5th in the world and Austrailia are constantly seed one or two. Let's get real; but not throw the towel in. This is not the Aussie side from 2005 by any stretch; and we beat them. Albion!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 69.

    You may be interested to read this blog from Mark Damazer the controller of Radio Four on Test Match Special.

  • Comment number 70.

    All Oval?

    Not so much oval as pearshaped for England.

    The Aussies finally woke up in the last test - and total humiliation ensued for the English.

    Expect more of the same in the 5th test, as the Ashes cements its existing reputation as one of the great mismatches of world sport. Hurrah!

  • Comment number 71.

    I can't believe the amount of negative comments about England's chances at the Oval. It must be the poor weather we have been enduring this summer.


    1) The series is level at 1-1, not 4-nil to the Aussies, and it they who have been playing "catch up".

    2)Flintoff destroyed the Aussies on day five at Lord's - I was there to see it. He was missing at Headingley.

    3)England played like lemmings at Headingley. BUT, they had been kicked out of bed by a fire alarm set off by Aussie fans at their hotel during the early hours. Then they had the confusion about Prior's injury minutes before play. And they knew Flintoff was missing. Small wonder they were so poor in the first session, and once they fell too far behind they knew it was all over. Aussies don't let go once they are on top. Time to move on.

    4)This is not the old Australian team, they are beatable, and England did it at Lord's. There is just as much (maybe more) pressure on them as England. Anything but a win sees them lose the No. 1 test ranking spot to South Africa. Make no mistake that matters to them. Ponting needs to win the Ashes or go down as the only modern Aussie captain not to do so in England; he won't be around in 4 years to try again. Oh yes, they are under pressure too.

    We have seen Australia wilt under pressure in this series already, just like England. There is no reason why, if they play well, England can't win this match, and with it the Ashes. I hope they have more self-belief than it seems many of their so-called supporters do!

  • Comment number 72.

    Heard Ponting today attempting to play mind games (ala Fergerson)...Flintoff Blah Blah. Failed. Completely off target. Hope Fred & Harmy causes ponting a few more scratches at 90mph+

  • Comment number 73.

    #71...excellent post, good to hear some positive vibes for a change.
    Yes we know that Australia have a good batting line-up, but they are not infallible. We took 20 wickets at lords and 7 wickets in one session at Edgbaston. This is not mission impossible and the longer the game goes on the pressure will mount on them losing the ashes. Now I'm going to suggest something here which is in line with the great Aggers, and that is,don't laugh, but I think they should gamble on Panaser in place of onions, the reason the wicket is going to be baked hard and spinners will get extra bounce. Won't happen of course.

  • Comment number 74.

    Not an England squad for the future is it. Flintoff will break down before England can take 20 wickets if he plays of course.

  • Comment number 75.

    Hoorah for stickandrudder and wicket2wicket. About time we saw something apart from (a) the white flag from the English faction and (b) a lot of smug posturing from the Strines. Even if Australia win - and that is by no means a foregone conclusion - they can hardly swan off back to Oz caliming a clean sweep. Die hard, England!!! Remember Albuera!!!

  • Comment number 76.

    Thank you TMS, you're sure to make another 5 days of cricket misery enjoyable in a sort of twisted way. Let's all wake up. We're about to be pummelled. On a pitch that's favoured batting all season Australia are sure to rack up 600+. This time their batsmen, galvanised by Headingley, won't be out to silly shots - they'll stick around and cream the short of a length bowling to all corners of the ground. The England bowling, which has been wayward all series - our bowlers can't even produce a stock ball. Morelike laughing stock when short and wide Harmison and 10 wkts at 71 Panesar feature just to prove how Miller & Co are a joke and the selection policy a debacle. Oh, and then we'll be tortured with the same old Ian Bell performance. The nearly man, the might have been... captain of the cosey recall club. Never to perform but always rewarded for failure. The best outcome is another heavy defeat, then hopefully we can move forward without the likes of Bell, Harmison and Geoff Miller.

  • Comment number 77.

    Regarding posting number 64. Henry was in Edinburgh but only had shows on Saturday and Sunday past . I had the pleasure of meeting him there and he informed me that he will indeed be at the Oval but not commentating on TMS . Seems a great shame, I'm sure many of us will miss him greatly come 11.00 am tomorrow . Bring Back Blowers !

    Good luck England ,win the toss , hold your nerve and the catches !

  • Comment number 78.

    I share Adam's ominous feeling, not helped by the weird cricket dream my son (Bill naturally) just sent me:
    Last night I had a dream I was picked for the last Test, which for reasons which were unclear had been relocated to Crete. The night before my debut the nerves were jangling a bit so I popped into town for a couple of relaxing beers with Jaff and Jamie.
    We moved on to a lively bar; where I was surprised to see Ricky Ponting behind the pumps, dressed in barman black t-shirt and trousers, with a black version of the baggy green on his head. I remember thinking that as long as he was still serving then it must be alright for me to stay and drink, although it was getting very late and I had had at least a couple more pints than I had intended.
    Before I knew it, it was 3am and I thought I had better make my excuses and get back to the team hotel (by this point Ricky was cashing up I think). I told the others I would meet them the next night at 9.30 and as I left I said ‘See you tomorrow, PUNTING’ in what I thought to be a suitably challenging and derisive manner. His non-plussed expression told me it was psychologically one up to Will.

    Cut to: the blazing hot sunshine of a baked Cretan auditorium; I am striding out swinging my bat but I think we are already 5 down for 24. I am out for a 3 ball duck, failing to offer a shot to a slower ball which does absolutely nothing. England are all out for 62.

    Cut to: astonishingly, I appear to be behind the stumps for the Aussie innings, all mitted up and absolutely terrified. What has happened to Matt Prior? We must have taken at least one wicket though because Ponting is in - I can see his round defiant @rse in front of me and I want to hit it. Then the most incredible thing happens; he pushes one towards extra cover and it’s an easy single. But what’s this, he’s coming back for a simply suicidal two. Broad (I think) has fielded at extra cover and flung the ball accurately towards me as I lurk disbelievingly at the timbers.

    I suddenly notice that my hands, and gloves, appear to be made of Perspex and in my moment of shock I fail to pouch the ball, instead parrying it away between my legs. Ricky is still only halfway back; he would have been out by miles. It is now that I have a flash of inspiration, pulling a blue biro out of my shirt pocket, diving forward and flicking the bails off with the pen, triumphantly.

    Then Ricky is back in his crease, he is pointing at me with his bat and laughing and laughing. He is really howling with laughter, and the whole crowd are too.

    Then I woke up.

    I don’t have a great feeling about this 5th Test now.

  • Comment number 79.

    It has been a well fought Ashes Test Series. The teams look evenly-matched. Most teams playing at home enjoy a huge advantage over the visitors. The Kiwis, Aussies, Lankans, Indians, Pakistanis and the Proteas seldom get defeated on home turfs. England and Australia have done well in keeping the interest alive till the very end. Another fifteen sessions of play and we may have a winner. Best wishes to the two sides.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 80.

    HunterS is OTT. Sounds like s/he'd rather be proved right than England win. Adam calls it right, it doesn't look good, but it can be done. The middle order won't have to do much to improve on last time and I think Strauss can lift them all.

  • Comment number 81.

    I do not think England's selection issues have ever reached such a high pitch and ferocity as before this test. A couple of extra days provided by Australia's nippy win at Leeds colluded with a longish gap to give an extra fillip to some very informed discussion and delving into the batting archives to shake out all the skeletons. Team will be known at the toss only, but going by the squad, final eleven isn't going to be an earth shattering upheaval. Still there is scope for a combinational surprise.
    Significantly and somewhat ironically, this series deciding single Test result is poised to be a make or break for both the opposing captains.
    Plebeians like me are looking forward to the contest as though in a trance on account of extraordinarily loaded hopes, and possibilities. After all Mountford did evoke the apt analogy of anonymous Yang toppling towering Tiger Woods.

  • Comment number 82.

    I would back Ponting to score at least 200 runs on this track in this situation and so whatever else happens England will not be able to force a win and so the Ashes will stay in Oz.

  • Comment number 83.

    Good morning fellow palms are sweating already and i'm only watching. But really, we would not swop this for anything else, would we, five days of high drama, unfolding session by session, it is going to be fantastic theatre out there.
    Crucial that we stay with them today, and hopefully pull away tomorrow and keep the momentum going. Win or lose lets hope every England player gives his all, we can not ask for more than that, apart from the urn of course....come on England make us proud.

  • Comment number 84.

    Lily ---who?--this is TMS not a pop show---dumbing down , Mr Mountford--still as I'm at work will not be listening!

  • Comment number 85.

    Agreed it's a good TMS squad for the Oval, but what happened to Blowers? Did anyone hear him on the today programme this morning? He had John Humphreys in absolute stitches, priceless! I'll certainly miss his endless banter about buses driving past, cormorants flying overhead, and of course his decriptions of the various tasty cakes he's been presented with. Wont be the same without him!

  • Comment number 86.

    This is a question to Blowers and I'm just wondering when he is going to do another tour of 'An evening with Blowers'? On his last tour he visited The Sage Gateshead and everyone had a wonderful evening. I was very fortunate as I was working for the Sage as the artist liasion for the event and it would be great to have the opportunity to hear his stories again!!


    John Aitchison

  • Comment number 87.

    Can someone explain to me why in all the hype about flintoff in the current test and 2005 test series there is virtually no mention of his leadership skills when losing 5-0 to Australia in the last Ashes series??

  • Comment number 88.

    my last post to a TMS blog (about the wrongs of sacking Mike Selvey) was deleted. i'm hoping for better luck this time! Hayden is a very decent summariser and benefits from avoiding the generally too serious approach of Austrailan commentators/summarisers. it's a great shame blowers isn't commentating in this test -edinburgh will have fun with him!- but it's good to know he'll be on the pyjama games. one of the best things about this summer's commentary is that listeners have not had to endure part time 5live football commentators (White, etc) spoiling TMS. Ashton, the new scorer, is settling in nicely and holds promise for the future. Let's hope England's performance at the Oval matches up to the treats in store in the TMS box!

  • Comment number 89.

    Mark on TMS suggests we have a vote on what to call Mr Trott. Me, I'll go for Trottski, and keep him away from those Aussie ice-picks.

  • Comment number 90.

    Trottski is inspired! Maybe DelBoy (Del Trotter) ?

  • Comment number 91.

    admirable start to the game for the english,as an australian even i was appalled at billy bozzo bowden not picking up the no ball that got strauss out.Once again warneys right about billy,hes just not up to test standard.The english still have a long way to go.You get the feeling they could collapse at anytime.Loooking forward to seeing what ponting can do on such a docile pitch.Sorry english fans but theres just not enough life in this wicket to get us out twice.Even the sherminators scoring runs.Been disappointed that punter hadnt targeted bell with johnson as soon as he came in.He wasnt picking up his deliveries early and i feel ponting missed a trick by not introducing Johnson straight away and surrounding the bat,especially behing gully.Brett Lee would have been handy on this pitch.We are in for a long five days,enjoy

  • Comment number 92.

    aggers is very cross that the i/d of the 'mystery' guest on saturday has been 'revealed'. sorry adam, i guess that means he doesn't read your blog... :-(

  • Comment number 93.

    This test is going to a gritty english win or a comfortable aussie hammering. todays lunchtime in running draw bet is the worst bet i have placed in 20 years. sunday and monday the crates of lager and/or long finger nails for biting are required.

  • Comment number 94.

    #1. And why, oh why, does the World think that the english have their heads up their own *rse? Just read this piece of self-indulgent crap! Come on ye baggy Greens!!

  • Comment number 95.

    re: Aggers/Allen.

    Get a grip Mountford. That was dreadful, truly dreadful. Shallow, celeb-obsessed drivel in the finest tradition of 5Live. Absolutely awful.

  • Comment number 96.

    I remember when they bury Bell, Flintoff and Harmison after this match could someone please put stakes through their hearts to stop them coming back again?


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