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Ashton joins TMS team

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Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 09:45 UK time, Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Well after another hectic winter for Test Match Special with commentary from Sydney to St Lucia, from Bangalore to Barbados we are back for what promises to be the most exciting summer in English cricket history.

The start of the Test series against the West Indies is just the beginning of an amazing few months ahead with 10 one-day internationals, the ICC World Twenty20 and of course the Ashes. Plus, England's victorious women's team will try to complete a incredible treble as they defend their Ashes crown and compete in the Women's Twenty20 tournament which runs alongside the men's competition.

Of course, someone who would have relished the summer ahead would have been our legendary scorer Bill Frindall and it is still difficult to come to terms with the fact that he won't be taking up his usual position in the corner of the Test Match Special commentary box at Lord's.

We have been inundated with hundreds of e-mails, texts and letters paying tribute to Bill - and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your kind thoughts.

It is quite simply impossible to replace the Bearded Wonder in the TMS box, but I am pleased to say that this summer Malcolm Ashton, who has been working with us on one-day internationals in recent years, will be joining us for the Test matches as well.

Keen listeners will remember that Malcolm actually understudied Bill back in 1987. Bill was working as a cricket writer for the Mail on Sunday that year and therefore had to spend Saturday's in the press box.

Two years later Malcolm began an 11-year spell as the BBC Television scorer and statistician, but I remember meeting him properly for the first time during his 10 years working as part of the England touring side.

It was in Adelaide in 2002/3 that I first shared a quiet drink with the man affectionately known as "Ashtray".

Malcolm Ashton

Malcolm worked as the scorer and eventually as the analyst for the England team, but he also played another key role on tours.

His contagious sense of humour proved critical, especially when results on the field weren't going to plan.

Famously, he produced regular spoof newspapers which I'm told were definitely not for general publication. But although no player escaped his ridicule, Malcolm remained one of the most popular members of the England backroom staff and to this day they still speak fondly of him - well at least whilst he is listening!

Malcolm started scoring in the Lancashire league back in 1979 where he was also secretary of the Rawtenstall Cricket Club.

His first radio experience came five years later when he scored for Radio 2 during matches featured on Stuart Hall's Sunday programme. And who do you think was the first commentator he came across ... Henry Blofeld!

At least he should have some idea of what to expect when he encounters Blowers again later in May.

Although cricket is Malcolm's first love he was actually a talented footballer and hockey player.

As a 15-year-old he played a game for Bury reserves but a serious knee injury prevented his football career progressing, although he did go on to play in goal at hockey for both Bury and Lancashire.

But Malcolm's talents don't just rest with sport.

He is a very keen thespian who not only has a great reputation in amateur dramatics but has also appeared as an extra in programmes such as Brookside.

The theatrical side of Malcolm may prove very useful if we have lots of rain delays this summer.

One thing I will be very careful of though is broadcasting too many of Malcolm's jokes.

He is one of those blokes who seems to pick up a stream of dodgy gags and normally greets you with the rather disturbing phrase "have you heard this one?"!

So it certainly promises to be an interesting summer both on the field and in the Test Match Special commentary box.

Keep checking the TMS blog - I'll be writing again in a few days with details of the rest of our team for the first Test plus some of the other treats we have in store during our coverage from Lord's.

Plus, look out for exciting news shortly on our coverage of the ICC World Twenty20 and a fascinating project giving you a chance to unlock Test Match Special's Ashes Archive.


  • Comment number 1.

    Welcome to the team "Ashtray". Any chance of resurrecting the Stump the bearded wonder? (although i can think of a few bad jokes about stump and ashtray, you can try a different title)

  • Comment number 2.

    Best of luck to Malcolm, he has some very big shoes to try an fill

  • Comment number 3.

    Welcome to Malcolm! I'm pleased he got the gig, I thought he filled in admirably when required in the past. Looking forwards to the new TMS season - not long to go now!

  • Comment number 4.

    Welcome Ashers. Do you think you could grow some kind of facial hair? Slappers doesn't seem a fair nick name.

  • Comment number 5.

    It will be very sad to have the first test next week without Bill but I am pleased with this appointment. With his work on the one-dayers in the past couple of years it will be good to have a familiar voice doing the job.

    I knew he used to work for BBC TV and the England team but its very interesting to know he did work for TMS on Saturdays of the tests for one season.

    Adam will you as well as blogging about the first test be blogging about other plans for the season as a whole such as which voices we can expect to hear in particular which aussie summerisers will be used.

  • Comment number 6.

    Excellent news. Please encourage his humour!

  • Comment number 7.

    Ashton got the job as a scorer on an official England ECB tour sometime ago,ahead of an ACUS(Umpires & scorers body)scorer who always supplied the scorers. Hmmm just the way it is. If you have a the right face and mouth you can get ahead of others in Cricket positions

  • Comment number 8.

    Very pleased to hear of Malcolm's appointment. He is the obvious choice, but obvious choices don't always win through.
    The estimable Mike Selvey was pushed to one side, though a distinguished TMS commentator indulges in 50+ 'and um's' in every 20 minute session. Strange.

  • Comment number 9.

    Welcome back to Malcolm.An outstanding individual whom I first met in Toronto where he was scoring the India Pakistan Sahara series at the Toronto CC and I was a volunteer giving various records broken and times and balls faced to the press.
    His memory bank, meticulous handwriting and lovely manner was what I remember so well.Its great to have him full time again on TMS.

  • Comment number 10.

    Para six, please remove apostrophe from "Saturday's" - shoudn't be there. Thanks.

  • Comment number 11.

    Whilst like I am sure everybody feels like me that TMS won’t be the same without the Bearded Wonder, I would like to welcome Malcolm to his new post- keep up the humour and make sure to keep Aggers under control );

    Slightly OT Adam, but at the end of last Season I suggested that TMS covered the Lions Matches and you agreed to look into this. I was not surprised when this did not happen in NZ, but I was very disappointed that Today’s game is not being covered – can you have another look at this for the Australian game – assuming they are playing the Lions



  • Comment number 12.

    Well done Malcolm. No in TMS tradition will he be knowh as Ashers!!

  • Comment number 13.

    Cheers Malcom,

    U have done a fabulous job.Thanks for the post.


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