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BBC Ashes coverage - TMS and much more

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Adam Mountford | 09:22 UK time, Wednesday, 24 November 2010

At the first news conference I attended here in Brisbane, the always-lively Graeme Swann described his emotions about playing in the Ashes down under.

The spinner said: "When we first got over here, I daren't think of the first Test match - because I was like a kid on December the first, with an Advent calendar. I couldn't wait for the 25th to come along."

Well after a build-up which seemed almost to begin when Swann claimed the winning wicket at The Oval last summer, that day has finally arrived.

Test Match Special box at the Gabba

The Test Match Special commentary box is on the right, in the stands at the Gabba. TMS Flickr page

At 2330 GMT on Wednesday in the UK, Test Match Special will be on the air to bring you the much-anticipated opening day of the 2010/11 Ashes series. If you cannot wait that long you'll be able to catch all the early build-up on BBC Radio 5 Live with a special Ashes edition of the Tony Livesey show from 2230, with Mark Pougatch in Brisbane and guests including the former England coach Peter Moores.

The TMS team have now all gathered in Brisbane from various corners of the globe. Michael Vaughan has been hanging out with his old mate Andrew Flintoff in Dubai, Geoff Boycott has been playing golf over in New Zealand whilst Jonathan Agnew is here fresh from watching England's very successful preparations in Perth, Adelaide and Hobart.

Michael Vaughan is very excited about the series ahead. He texted me at 4.40am on Tuesday to ask if he could have the pass he needs to get into the matches, he turned up at the breakfast room at the hotel before they had even started serving and then departed early for the Gabba to watch England's final preparations in the nets.

Vaughan of course has pretty good memories of playing in Australia having scored three big hundreds in the five Tests he played over here. You know anticipation must be high ... even Christopher martin-Jenkins was spotted in the hotel three days before the match starts. However whether he arrives at the ground before play is another matter!

Joining Aggers, CMJ , Boycs and Vaughan at the Gabba will be popular Aussie commentator Jim Maxwell and there will be contributions from the analyst Simon Hughes. Our Australian summariser for this first Test is the former opening batsman Michael Slater. Slats enjoyed a highly successful Ashes career and knows all about the importance of the opening salvos of a series. He famously smashed the opening delivery in 1994/95 for four on his way to a blistering century which set the tone for what followed.

But I am also delighted to announce that popping in throughout this Ashes series on both TMS and 5 Live will be the man who faced the opening deliveries of the last two Ashes series - Justin Langer.

Langer is now the Australian batting coach but he will be part of the BBC Radio team as well as writing on Of course the opening balls he faced in 2005 and 2006/7 were rather different. One struck him a nasty blow, the other ... well I probably don't need to remind you.

I'm sure you will do all you can to join TMS through the night all series long - and we would love you to get in touch by e-mailing or sending us messages on Twitter - either direct to me @tmsproducer or with the hashtag #bbcashes.

You can also listen live on the BBC Sport website, and follow the live text commentary from Ben Dirs in London and regular updates from Tom Fordyce in Brisbane.

But I also accept most of you are not nocturnal - so I am very happy to announce a brand new innovation for this Ashes series. At the close of play, which for this Test will probably be between 0700 and 0730 GMT, we will bring you a special half-hour review of the day's play, available on both 5 Live Sports Extra and Radio Four on 198LW.

This will include Aggers' and Boycott's now legendary assessment of the day's action as well as interviews and the day's highlights. But if you miss that, don't panic because 5 Live Sports Extra will have Ashes highlights available from around 0800 GMT, running throughout the day. There is also the TMS Podcast available to download, so there will be no excuse for not catching up with the action.

5 Live will have updates throughout the night before Ashes Breakfast gets underway at 0600 with plenty of reaction, debate and your chance to have your say on the drama. Mark Pougatch will present from the Gabba and he'll be joined by a star-studded cast of guests every morning.

And as well as ball-by-ball commentary we will have plenty to enjoy during the intervals, including a feature interview with Andrew Flintoff (ahead of the Inside Sport: Ashes Warrior programme on BBC 1 next Monday), a special profile of Graeme Swann and we'll catch up with Oli Broom, who is scheduled to arrive at the Gabba on the opening day after an amazing charity cycle ride to Australia from the UK.

Let's just hope his incredible journey is worth it and we have a fantastic start to what promises to be a very special Ashes series.


  • Comment number 1.

    Can I ask if there are any plans for a slight 'delay' in the output of TMS which would facilitate thousands of fans being able to turn down the volume on Sky's coverage and listen to some 'proper' commentary instead?

    Please, please, please?

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi there, Graeme Reid Davies here, exec editor at radio sport. i'm afraid we have no plans to delay our coverage - it will be absolutely as instant as the satellite link will allow. But do listen - with Agggers, Boycott and vaughan it will be great stuff!

  • Comment number 3.

    Thanks for the response Graeme, I do love to listen to TMS (even without Blowers & Tuffers) but the 'feed' is always a few seconds ahead of the Sky pictures which makes it rather frustrating. If only it were the other way round (one is able to pause TV these days) then I could revel in the cricket nirvana that would be Sky pictures and the best commentary from TMS. I can't be the only one who feels this way! Please don't make me listen to Charles Colville!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    As an expat Shropshire-lad, I would like to know if is possible to get internet radio coverage overseas?
    Thanks in advance.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Flux Redux -

    I'm Lewis Wiltshire, the Editor of the BBC Sport website. Happy to answer the questions about web coverage of the Ashes, while GRD takes the ones about radio!

    TMS audio is not available outside the UK for this Ashes tour. We're not allowed to do that. That doesn't mean you won't necessarily be able to find a local station covering it, of course.

    Hope that helps,


  • Comment number 6.

    I find it disappointing that there is no highlights on BBC channels for the Ashes. Surely as a prime national channel more effort should have been made to show the highlights atleast.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hello Lewis,
    When you say "That doesn't mean you won't necessarily be able to find a local station covering it"
    Do you mean an Australian station? (I don't think the French, etc will!)

  • Comment number 8.


    I watch Sky muted and have TMS comms - Sky HD and TMS on the web (which always has a slight delay) does it for me!

  • Comment number 9.

    If you listen to the TMS commentary on a PC then you can run a software program called "Radiodelay" (Google it) to sync it with the TV coverage.

  • Comment number 10.

    @Pam - Thank you. I know I stumbled across an incident last summer (Pakistan Series, I think) where it seemd that, for once, the radio was behind (and I could therefore pause the TV etc.) and it was probably because I had TMS on the 'pooter rather than the radio.


  • Comment number 11.

    Flux - I wasn't sure where you were so it was a generic punt on my part that wherever you were there might be a feed! Australia - I believe it's ABC. France - nope, you're probably going to be out of luck unless it's northern France in which case you might just get Radio 4 LW!

  • Comment number 12.

    Sky / TMS delay.
    I have a Digital (roberts) radio. this has the pause / replay facility built in.
    so I just set that up for the 4 to 5 second delay need to get them both in sync.
    Hope this helps

  • Comment number 13.

    I thought I would ask my own question as I can see others being answered (and it's appreciated by everyone I'm sure). Do you know how long after the end of play the TMS podcast is likely to be pushed through to iTunes? If it's before I leave for work it'll make for a good journey but I have a feeling it might take longer than that.

  • Comment number 14.

    "Australia - I believe it's ABC."
    Thanks Lewis, I'll try that.

  • Comment number 15.

    It is a real shame that the invitation was not extended to Blowers for this series. A man described by one of your more prominent presenters, on one of your sports radio programmes, as "the voice of cricket" is, unfortuantely, voiceless for this series. An opportunity missed to hear a national treasure who is coming to the latter part of his career.

  • Comment number 16.

    +1. that's the best way.

  • Comment number 17.

    We're hoping that the podcast will be on iTunes within an hour of close of play. Obviously play will end at different times each day and there are also different time zones for the tests (Perth will end about 2 hours later than the others). In Brisbane we're expecting play to end soon after 7 am. The best thing to do is make sure you've subscribed and download last thing before work. We'll get the podcast there as fast as we can.

  • Comment number 18.

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

  • Comment number 19.

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

  • Comment number 20.

    I cant wait to see what ITV does with the Ashes Highlights.
    Of course the BBC were a bit silly not to bid for it but I am thankful the BBC didnt get them, they made right hash of them in 2006/2007.
    I mean, Manish at the Ground was stupid..and also having the coverage on at stupid o least ITV will have it at 10pm...why didnt the BBC shove Newsnight to a different time?? OH NO, they cant do that!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Also with the Podcast being on after play, its a bit bad for us that have to leave for work at 7am and dont get back until 6pm!
    I would like to listen to it but have to wait all day to get it...the same dilemma for many fans alike.

  • Comment number 21.

    ITV have got the highlights rights but are showing them on ITV4,which means if you havent got a freeview/cable/satellite/freesat input into your TV,you cant watch them anyway!,somehow ITV and sport dont mix to me,will be listening and watching the graphics through BBC Sport website myself while away from home and SKY when home.

  • Comment number 22.

    @Sean_p - ITV would like to put it on ITV1 but they have to put the News at 10 on and guess what, end up being like the BBC's - plus Sky wont allow FTA highlights until 10pm which doesnt help.
    Of course Sky will be the place but for people like me, Sky's 2 Hour Highlights are far too long.
    The BBC will be the 1st place for news but I think I'll stick with ITV's Highlights with a snippit of Sky's Coverage.
    Better dig out the Radio for a bit of TMS...the only thing the BBC have got left for Cricket!

  • Comment number 23.

    Whilst TMS is very welcome it is a crying shame that the BBC can find the money for a minority sport like F1 but can't seemingly be bothered any more to bid for live test matches...

  • Comment number 24.

    hello - please help!

    You wrote this - "But I also accept most of you are not nocturnal - so I am very happy to announce a brand new innovation for this Ashes series. At the close of play, which for this Test will probably be between 0700 and 0730 GMT, we will bring you a special half-hour review of the day's play, available on both 5 Live Sports Extra and Radio Four on 198LW."

    that's great news.

    my question - is this half hour review the same as or different from the Podcast with Aggers and Sir Geoff?


  • Comment number 25.

    Can i ask why there is no matchplay card on the red button.
    It was a great thing to glance at and have a laugh at the dodgy smiles from the players.
    Its great for keeping an eye on scorecards.

  • Comment number 26.

    I am eagerly waiting for the First Test match to commence. Wishing Jonathan Agnew, Adam Mountford and Team TMS a jolly good time throughout the Ashes Series.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 27.

    Back to sequencing the commentary - it can't be done!

    I've tried four different methods and it turns out that sky don't broadcast in real time, they massage it to miss nothing and show the replays.

    I was in Brisbane for the last one, and just wish I was there now!

    Meanwhile, I am multimediaing as I listen to TMS on the net field texts and e-mails from the lads who were with me 4 years ago and watch sky whilst posting on the BBC.

    The Duckmeister, Eastons CC, Essex

  • Comment number 28.

    Help! where has the ball by ball coverage gone?! Im in work so i cant twit or listen to the coverage. Dont say Murdoch has put the kybosh on this as well!

  • Comment number 29.

    Hi pgs - the review which appears on a loop on Sports extra throughout the day is indeed the Aggers and Boycott podcast. We're trying to make it available on as many different platforms as possible to give ebveryone the best chance of accessing it.

  • Comment number 30.

    Deadkennedy - which ball-by-ball coverage are you referring to? Radio? Online? Written text commentary? Online scorecard?

  • Comment number 31.

    Why the need for so many Aussie voices? I was travelling to work this morning listening to two Aussies on a English radio station gloating about Siddle and not an English voice could be heard

    More English less Aussie please.

    At least Sky have got this one right!

  • Comment number 32.

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

  • Comment number 33.

    The website Lewis, the website. Dirsy comment stopped at midnight or so it seems when in fact the blog is now chronological so I need to scroll down, not very nice and a change to usual commentary. Quite a pain when I woke up in the middle of the night and wanted to check on my pda the score. So reverted to scorecard but missed Dirsey latest comment.

  • Comment number 34.

    Excellent first night's Ashes commentary.

    Aggers, CMJ, Jim Maxwell on top form, Boycs improved after an overly-negative first session, Michael Vaughan didn't get on my nerves, Michael Slater's enthusiasm is infectious, much TOO MUCH Justin Langer in the middle session.

    Synching the commentary with Sky's pictures cannot be done.
    Better still turn off Murdoch's Evil Empire altogether... dull commentators .... Botham, Hussain, Gower etc, barrage of pointless graphics, annoying ad breaks at the end of EVERY OVER, the fall of EVERY WICKET, after EVERY BALL. Use your imagination under the duvet and let the BBC commentary of the oldest and still, greatest sporting contest of them all - paint the pictures in your head.

  • Comment number 35.

    Notsolittlemouse - Ben Dirs was text commentating from the first ball of the first day to the last.

    The first entry you see at the top of the page will always be the most recent. It's been that way since we first started text commentaries back in circa 2004 and it's still that way now.

    The only thing that's changed for this Ashes series (and indeed for the World Cup when we first used this new live page) is that after play has finished for the day, and once everything on that page has been wrapped up and put to bed, the order of entries is flipped so the first one is at the top and the most recent one at the bottom, which is supposed to allow a retrospective chronological look through what happened.

    But we haven't changed the format of the live text commentary while play is active - if you woke in the night, you would have seen the over-by-over updates, with most recent at the top, and a scorecard on the right-hand side of the web page with full score details.

  • Comment number 36.

    i have listened to ashes for over 60 years, and remember the excitement as a boy which is still with meIn fact i still have a score book of two tests in 1957(v W indies) both scored off the ball by ball commentary
    I do however miss the updates of the scorecard of the day, leaving tms radio on and drifting in and out of slumber is so frustrating.If we could have these every few overs or drinks breaks i am sure it would be appreciated by many.Scores and not out batsmen at end of over is fine but doesnt give us the complete picture

  • Comment number 37.

    Please don't write off England. It IS below par, we all know that, but, with the ball swinging like a goodun' all day yesterday, and Broady, Finn and the future world number one in Swanny at the helm, England could easily skittle the Aussies for 30-40 runs either side of our total. That, conbined with bowling last on a deteriorating wicket, would make a mockery of the 11-2 odds offered by a reputable bookmakers, for an English triumph. Best £20 quid I'll invest, you'll see.

  • Comment number 38.

    There is this freeware audio delay software which might be worth trying - I have no link with this company.

  • Comment number 39.

  • Comment number 40.

    I live in Nicaragua. Yesterday - 24/11 - I was able to connect with TMS and listen until well after lunch (my bedtime) in Brisbane. Today, the 25th, the BBC tells me the service is not available in my area for licensing reasons or some such. What is going on?. Isn´t there some way I can listen to TMS?.

  • Comment number 41.

    Only a question, albeit an extremely frustrated one: how come people outside the UK cannot get TMS commentary on the Ashes series? Is the rights issue really so crude as to allow TMS commentary on test matches which take place in England but not in Australia? I guess it is as simple as this, but I would appreciate confirmation.

  • Comment number 42.

    If there is a rights issue, why was I able to access TMS yesterday (the 24th) and not today?

  • Comment number 43.

    re 40-42. I am currently in Colombia and found the same situation. Coverage from Brisbane yesterday but 'rights restriction' message today. Does this mean no further access to TMS in Australia?

  • Comment number 44.

    We've suffered this for many years and I've never read an explanation of:

    - why TMS is usually denied the non-UK internet radio rights. Cost? Competition? Politics?
    - who awards them? (Hosting national cricket board I presume.)
    - who are they awarded to when the BBC is denied them? Presumably whoever has them would want their commentary to be found easily by listeners, so where do we find these alternative broadcasters? I suspect they do not exist. It is unlikely to be your local Colombian or Nicaraguan sports station.

    We can only hope some wealthy cricket-lover (Mr Jagger where are you?) might step in, purchase the rights and award them to TMS for the benefit of cricket fans worldwide.

  • Comment number 45.

    Here's another frustrated Ex-pat! I live in Germany, where there is less than zero chance of getting any form of live commentary on the Ashes series. Nada, zilch, nothing, niente, nichts, null. Cricket does not happen here on any form of broadcasting.

    Here's the annoying part: OK, the BBC cannot afford the Internet rights for the rest of the world, fair enough. But who has the rights for the Internet? I tried ABC (the Australian version, for sure) and there I get "Australian IP addresses only". So they don't have the rights.

    This just begs a question: who does own the rights? Sky? Beijing central? The North Korean Information Ministry? TMS-Haters-of-the-World-United? (This echoes DukeOfNelson's question)

    And if nobody does, why can't the BBC just go ahead and broadcast? If there's nobody who actually does want to broadcast, why can't they just take the IP-Block out? Who's going to mind? The ECB? Cricket Australia? Surely, if there's no competition for these rights, as nobody wants to broadcast, the rights cannot be that expensive.

    And why is it not even possible to listen to the Five Live Sport Extra Ashes highlights? Are there too many snippets of original broadcasting?

    Yours, frustrated, Munich.

  • Comment number 46.

    For all the frustrated ex-pats I'll just say Visual Panty Line (google VPN). I do hope that my comments about panties doesn't attract a moderator as I know that there is a grey area surrounding VPN.

  • Comment number 47.

    Although I like the test match referals the hot spot technology is fallible. I have used an infra red camera for finding moisture for many years. The camera has to be set to the correct temp range, based on the outside temp, the range of the focused heat also has to be set carefully to show the variation. I believe the camera was not correctly adjusted yesterday. Infra red also requires continual adjustment it is based on the current temp which changes.
    Go England
    Pomie 604

  • Comment number 48.

    If the two things certain in life are death and taxes, then the two things certain in the realm of sports broadcast rights are that they are devilishly complicated, and vary wildly from sport to sport and sometimes also even within one sport.

    Sports rights generally is not my area of expertise, but since a lot of you are asking I'd like to give you an answer. Speaking generically, rights are given out by the governing body. It's very unusual for any broadcaster to land the rights on a worldwide basis because usually a governing body would sell them more than once, in as many areas as there exist an interested broadcaster.

    So the question of who owns the rights worldwide is a moot one. The answer is usually nobody. In countries where there is a sufficient audience, the rights will be snapped up by a local broadcaster who would then be allowed to broadcast locally. In areas where there isn't a huge audience, nobody owns the rights, and broadcasters who DO have rights elsewhere cannot broadcast to those territories.

    So to take the Ashes, the BBC is allowed to broadcast the radio commentary to the UK, and ABC is allowed to broadcast the radio commentary in Australia, and for all I know there are probably broadcasters in other cricketing parts of the world such as India or the Caribbean covering the Ashes. None of us can broadcast to Germany and no German broadcaster will have picked up the rights because there's very little audience there so it isn't worth the money.

    So we're not allowed to broadcast this Ashes series outside the UK - it isn't because we don't want to. And if people were picking TMS up on the first night outside the UK that would have been a technical glitch, a leak. It isn't that we have changed our minds!

    For some Test match series - usually England at home - we can broadcast TMS outside the UK. But not this one. I hope that explains it.

  • Comment number 49.

    I thought the ECB had Highlights of the Test on their website?
    Have a butchers on there

    As for the TMS Podacst, can someone tell me why it doesnt download automatically? Im having to do it manually and its annoying to say the least!

  • Comment number 50.

    Thanks to Lewis for explaining the BBC side of the rights issue. No surprises really there.

    The next step in demystifying this problem is to find out why the "governing body" (which I assume is Cricket Australia in this case) denied the BBC the rights to broadcast to countries such as Germany, USA etc where no local broadcaster took them.

    In order to pursue this we'll have to identify (and perhaps plead with) the relevant contact at C.A. - but one reason maybe a technical one, and perhaps Lewis you can answer this...

    If Cricket Australia granted the BBC the rights to a specific non-UK country, or to broadcast worldwide EXCEPT for countries where there are other broadcasters who acquired Ashes rights (e.g. Australia) would the BBC be able to do this?

    If the BBC can not manage this filtering then I can understand the governing body being unwilling to let you compete with Australian broadcasters.

  • Comment number 51.

    Duckmeister, it is possible to watch Sky and listen to TMS at the same time because I have done it for 3 of the 4 days(/nights).
    I listen to TMS on the media player of my Nokia N900 smartphone via WiFi and find that the buffering means it is about 8 seconds behind the Sky pictures. So I pause the Sky+ and with a bit of tweaking it is fairly easy to sync with the sound of bat on ball. It does occasionally need to be re-synced especially if the commentary re-buffers but it isn't hard.
    I did listen to the Sky commentators on the second day as my kids stopped up with me but they were rubbish (the commentators not the kids).
    I enjoy the different insights of all the current commentary team especially Michael Vaughan and Simon Hughes but even the Aussie guests are fair minded and not irritating like they can be.
    The lunchtime interview with John McCririck was priceless especially his irreverent views on the Aussies.
    Here's hoping this new breed of English cricketer has forgotten the last day wobble and I am looking forward to receiving my HD box in time for the second test.

  • Comment number 52.

    DukeofNelson - sorry for delay in replying. My understanding is that would be technically difficult, currently. Presumably it could be done, but with investment to make it possible.

  • Comment number 53.

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

  • Comment number 54.

    for the benefit of those who doze off during the night and only wake up again when it is all over, could you please give the full stats at the end of play before you start on the interviews and the review?

  • Comment number 55.

    What can i expect from TMS and BBC a nut shell nothing...thanks BBC. Overseas listeners are clearly being discriminated by your idiotic policy of allowing only uk listeners to use the Internet radio links. Do you not realise that in the uk people dont need the internet to listen to the radio?? I couldnt give a rats bottom about licensing agreements one in the counrty broadcasts the cricket, not on tv or radio. I am left therefore completly devoid of all live coverage, and dont you dare say that the live text is avaliable, that is a very poor substitute.

    After years of being a fan of TMS, i have turned my back upon you. I have found something better, how many other listeners have you lost? I would probably say most of the overseas community, those listeners who in the past were probably amongst some of the most loyal and fervent supporters of TMS and English cricket.

    Please stop your ridiculous policy.


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