Radio Days

Test Match Special is one of those British institutions which is always destined to be not quite what it was.

You get the impression that for many people over the age of fifty (a demographic I haven't quite joined yet), the programme's 'Golden Age' belongs back in the era when John Arlott was still going strong. Johnston, and Gibson, and a younger Frindall and Martin-Jenkins would have been there too. Now all of those are gone - for me it would be a wonderful thing to hear CMJ again but it seems I never will - but, for those of us who care about such things, the programme is still a central part of winter mornings and summer days. With the right sort of technology you can even hear it without interruptions from the shipping forecast or Yesterday in Parliament.

TMS endures.

As Michael Henderson and a few others will tell you, aspects of it may not be what they were, but, as this fluctuating, unpredicted, enjoyable series has unfolded, TMS has sounded as essential as ever. Like Cook or Pujara on one of their many good days it has displayed an innate sense of control and authority.

For me, the most enjoyable and refreshing element of recent weeks has been the experience of listening to Rahul Dravid. This is a man who has been one of the best and most famous cricketers in the world, yet has retained an alluring air of humility and gentle humour, and his reminiscences and judgements are lent weight by their grounding in recent experience. He could perhaps do to play a few more shots, but he'll learn.

A penny for Simon Mann's thoughts when Dravid thanks him (implicitly for giving him the privilege of sharing the airwaves).

I'd retire there and then.


Anonymous said...

Sky and the ipad mean I am only a TMS listener now in the car. The digital delay prevents me muting the ipad and listening to TMS. But on journeys, TMS envelops me comfortably.
Radio listeners are so dependent on commentators and this is a relationship that TMS does not abuse. When operating smoothly, it offers varied perspectives, passions and accents to sample. Dravid does seem to have eased in nicely.
I don't need TV commentators and am apt to get annoyed if their description varies from what I think I have seen. I think I pay more attention to the twitter feed on my phone than I do to the Sky crew.

Brian Carpenter said...

Thanks, Chris.

I think TMS has many faults - and people's perceptions of these will vary according to their individual tastes in commentators, which vary a lot - but it's still the best cricket broadcasting we have. Like you, I'm no real fan of the Sky team, and one or two (Gower, Botham) I really don't like.

I just thought Dravid was great. Not because he said anything especially insightful or revelatory or critical, but because he was just such a gent.

Backwatersman said...

You're quite right - as one of the 50+ demographic you refer to (I'm 52 in about an hour) I do think of the '70s as the Golden Age of TMS. I don't think that this is entirely a trick of memory, if only because I've never met anyone who reminisces quite as fondly about the era of Arlo White and Mark Pougatch - or, for that matter, the pre-'70s era of Rex Alston et al.. Always a bit of a shock to remember that no-one under the age of 40-ish can remember Arlott on air.

There are certainly some commentators I'd like to hear a bit less of and some I'd like to hear more from (I agree with you about Dravid) - but I'd surely miss it if it wasn't there, and I'll be keeping the radio by the bedside when England visit NZ in the New Year (and esp. looking forward to hearing from Jeremy Coney again).

Hope you haven't been too badly affected by the floods, by the way. Thought Grace Road in the Summer was wet!

Brian Carpenter said...

Thanks, Backwatersman, for your comment and good wishes. It's certainly very wet here but I live on top of a hill so am safe from flooding. Landslips, disruption to Christmas plans, well, those are other matters.

No doubt your favourite stump is a bit on the damp side at the moment.

Thanks also for reminding me that Jeremy Coney should be on TMS during the NZ tour (just as long as Sky haven't signed him up). The man is a genius and I had a feeling I'd once written something about him. Sure enough I had:


John Halliwell said...

Thanks for stirring the memory of the great days of TMS, Brian.

The Sky+ box is a truly marvellous device and comes into its own when, in compensation for my increasing reluctance to stay up through the night, it records in glorious high definition the hours of an overseas Test between midnight and my arrival from the land of nod at about 5.30am; at which time I’m able to watch the highlights of play from the quiet hours, the 4 and the 6, the wicket, the referral (but sadly not in India), the forlorn hope that the third umpire will, in the interests of comedy and confusion, press the wrong button; the look of relief on the face of a spared batsman or the long trudge back and the quizzical glance at the big screen to see where it all went wrong. And all found at 30x the speed of yet another Botham dig at Athers’ erstwhile stodginess at the crease, Nasser’s shocked affront that Knight should hold a contrary view on the ECB’s handling of the KP affair, and the “Yes, but wait a minute.....” of Gower’s much loved devil’s advocate. If, during the recent series, I had been able to record the commentary from the ground, I would have listened to every minute of every half-hour that the wonderful Dravid had been on microphone.

Brian Carpenter said...

Thanks, John. I fully agree with you about the merits of Sky+. I just wish I had the time to watch what's gone on overnight the following morning.

And you're dead right about the value of being able to fast forward through large swathes of modern Test cricket. The game's brilliant but the tempo...well, I tend to take the view that the players need a rocket up their backsides.

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