For much of the Summer I’ve found Test Match Special pretty hard to listen to; yesterday and today I’ve been hooked. It could just be that the compellingness of TMS directly correlates to the compellingness of the match, and when the cricket’s not that interesting, then all the reasons that make you think, “God, the commentators really annoy me” come to the fore and you switch off the radio. Or it could just be that they haven’t had Geoffrey Boycott on this morning, so it’s a lot less irritating than usual. Does Boycott not work on Saturdays? Or have they realised he’s really annoying and sacked him?

Also – why on earth is the final day of Test cricket this Summer Monday 11 August (assuming the game makes it to the fifth day)? That’s preposterously early. Grr.

11 thoughts on “TMS”

  1. I’ve been listening to it most of the day – first time I’ve heard Henry Blofeld’s voice in a long time. I think expats are who, above all, he’s for.

    Boycott was quite good on TV for a long time – I think people expected that he’d be like Fred Trueman, but he wasn’t. He didn’t just deplore everything, he explained his criticisms when he made them and he wasn’t afraid to say when he saw a good shot either. Possibly he’s got a little attached to his own myth – something not dissimilar happened to Alan Hansen for a time.

  2. The 11th is very early – looking at the ticket i still have on my noticeboard, the last day of the 2005 Ashes was the 12th of September – a full month later. I’m guessing that it’s both to do with the ICC Champions Trophy and the Olympics.

    Although it’s by no means perfect, I still think the standard of analysis on TMS is streets ahead of the coverage of pretty much any other sport on any British media. The comparison with Hansen is a useful one – he’s been attached to not only his own myth, but also the way the BBC has marketed him as a defensive expert, for years now. As WSC noted this month, in the coverage of Euro 2008 he actually condemned Italy for playing defensively against spain even though they were missing their most creative player.

    At the very least, you get a genuine opinion from Boycott and his peers on TMS, there is disagreement and debate. There’s very rarely anything like that in coverage of football and rugby on British TV or radio.

  3. Also, whereas most of the TMS crew’s politics are Tory (witness the dreadfully soft interview they did with David Cameron in the 2nd test, and the way they talked about him afterwards, even going so far to suggest that the only reason they couldn’t say more is because they were meant to be impartial!), Boycott’s are more leftish. There was a wonderful moment a week or two ago when Boycott criticised the war, and Jonathan Agnew obviously disagreed but wouldn’t say so because he didn’t want to get into a political argument with Boycott.

  4. Tribune had a snippet about Boycott on the war, in its Diary column this week.

    And – since this is a cricket thread – let me just record my long-standing admiration for Michael Vaughan, and sadness that he’s standing down as England captain. A real shame – though if it does help his glorious batting return, then perhaps that’s for the best.

  5. Wasn’t it just before he was made captain that he made three big centuries, in an Ashes series, away from home, on a losing side? I remember thinking at the time he got the job that it would probably screw up his batting. I’d have given it to Butcher.

  6. It’s only recently that it’s genuinely screwed up his batting mind you, although he does appear to be on a downwards path. I think Vaughan has been a great captain and a great cricketer. It’s a shame that the only two undroppables for England at the present moment aren’t really captain material, though out of Flintoff and Pietersen they’ve definitely made the right choice.

    the cameron interview was indeed very soft but I wasn’t really expecting anything more. At the very least his affection for cricket managed to sound slightly more genuine than Blair’s affection for football (though still wholly bogus).

  7. “I wouldn’t be too sure about that. Boycott was last heard of supporting UKIP.”

    ugh. I take it all back then (Labour voters do do funny things in European elections, but even so)

    I’m not sure about Vaughan’s glorious batting return. He was magnificent before he became captain, but even if he regains that form, having a player who had been so dominant a captain on the playing field would surely cause conflicts of leadership. I can’t see a way back for him.

    Up until recently I’d have accepted that he deserves a place as a specialist captain regardless of his low batting average since becoming captain. However, his form as been so poor recently that I’m no longer of that opinion, especially with other players struggling for form meaning we’ve little strength in depth.

    I think Pietersen is the right choice. It’s unfortunate, because his batting form will probably suffer. But right now he and Sidebottom are the only players of any experience that I would say will definitely be in the side with no questions about their future in 12 months time. Maybe it will even make him a more responsible player, like David Beckham when he became the captain of the football side.

  8. Beckham is the comparison that stands out, yes; although the press tried to convince us for years that England’s generally mediocre performances were purely the result of his being undroppable. We’ll get less of that with KP and the cricket writers though since they are a class above football writers.

    I’m not sure why Rob Key was ever under consideration. good captain but average batsman, and wasn’t that the main problem with Vaughan?

  9. TMS need to use Boycott like a strike bowler, in short, sharp bursts. It’s soul-sapping to hear him for more than an hour a day, endlessly going on about the corridor of uncertainly (a wonderfully evocative phrase, admittedly), and saying ‘well, he won’t mind that – got to lure him in the drive, to take wickets’ whenever an opposition batsman hits jimmy anderson for 4.

    The BBC should also do whatever they can to get Simon Hughes (the analyst, not the lib dem) as a regular TMS presenter, but given the fact that they didn’t even bother to bid for TV coverage of tests this time around, i don’t hold much hope.

  10. argh, I couldn’t have been more wrong about Boycott – the following is a direct quote from about 60 seconds ago: “people work all their life, they pay taxes then they have to pay tax when they die”

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