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Who's Rod?

Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 18:37 UK time, Friday, 16 May 2008

Possibly the most famous moment ever broadcast on Test Match Special was, of course, the late great Brian Johnston reduced to a fit of giggles after Jonathan Agnew told listeners that Ian Botham "couldn't quite get his leg over" when describing Beefy's unusual dismissal in the 1991 Oval Test against the West Indies.

It is fascinating to hear the behind-the-scenes story of that moment. Johnston was actually really annoyed that he lost control on the air and only saw the funny side the next morning when the engineers at the ground played him the clip.

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Aggers was also a worried man - it was his first series as BBC Cricket Correspondent and he was concerned he was in trouble. Peter Baxter once told me he burst into the commentary box and exclaimed something like "please someone say something". Peter, who retired last year after 34 years as TMS producer, also told me that Tony Cozier deserves the credit for not spoiling a moment that still makes people laugh today. Tony was actually in the commentary box at the time of the hysteria - but he chose not to intervene. For those of us who still smile at Johnners struggling to get his words out - "Oh, Aggers, for goodness' sake stop it" - we thank you, Tony!

Yesterday I was in the box when Christopher Martin-Jenkins found himself corpsing live on the air. It may not quite match the magic of Johnners and Aggers in 1991, but it was very funny.

In case you didn't hear what caused CMJ to lose his composure - this was the exchange:

During the 52nd over New Zealand captain Dan Vettori faced England paceman Stuart Broad.

"Broad's in, he bowls, this time Vettori lets it go outside the off stump, good length, inviting him to fish," CMJ told listeners.

But then the trouble started. CMJ went on "But Vettori stays on the bank... and keeps his rod down, so to speak."

At this point I am afraid to admit the laughter started amongst those of us in the box. And I can't just blame new recruit Phil Tufnell, we were all guilty. Bill Frindall helpfully exclaimed "good luck" and after a few seconds CMJ managed to speak again.
"I don't know if he is a fisherman, is he?" ... the laughter continued but to be fair to CMJ he just went on regardless.

At such a moment there is, to be honest, not much a producer can do - and I cannot lie, I know it was childish but I was laughing along as well. Anyway - you have a listen and I dare you not to laugh as well!


  • Comment number 1.

    It was classic TMS and every comment that CMJ made just got him into more trouble and made it worse, especially when he starting commenting on the size of Vettori's rod trying to cover up his slip! Honestly! He just didn't know how to quit.

  • Comment number 2.

    Another TMS classic Moment. The Guardian website has a longer version of this clip. What happened after Jeremey Coney asked to CMJ "Do all fisherman have long rods?"

  • Comment number 3.

    After Jeremy asked about long rods, CMJ began to waffle about carbon fibre bats, saying the technology was copied from carbon fibre rods. It was a damn good recovery by CMJ, but it was wonderful to hear him 'lose it' in the first place - I'll regard him quite differently now!!

  • Comment number 4.

    Brilliant moment! I was in hysterics along with them!

  • Comment number 5.

    It was very, very funny indeed. I'm looking forward to more of it... with cake this time round, please.

    I'm also not quite sure why those concerned seem to think that there's something embarrassing or unprofessional about it. The day TMS turns into 'smooth and sleek' coverage I'll switch off.

  • Comment number 6.

    Have you seen the CARROM BALL bowled by Sri Lankan spinning sensation Ajantha Mendis? It is called so because he bowls like a carrom player flicking the disc on the board. CARROM BALL is the latest addition to the cricket lexicon after the Doosra.

  • Comment number 7.

    Cloe, I certainly agree with you there!
    TMS really does provide a lot that sky can't. Things such as wit and interesting discussion.
    Keep up the good work everyone, the informative commentary interjected with bright humour is priceless!


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