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Essex Shield

Tales from the Boundary

In the Box


I think my favourite cricket commentator was Brian Johnston, closely followed by his successor Jonathan Agnew, but then my favourite author is P.G.Wodehouse who similarly dealt in the whimsical.   Once I saw Brian close up, when I was leading a horse in the paddock at Windsor races and Brian leaning on the rail.  I raised my cap, he doffed his panama.  Made my day.

My early cricket listening was on a large wooden radio which my mother had bought at auction for a few pence.  Many an hour was spent twiddling the tuner to see what stations one could find.   Hilversum was one that fascinated and subsequently I passed it by on a trip through Germany.  I could also pick up Radio Caroline but preferred Radio Two to Radio One.

John Arlott was a star of my early listening.  I doubt he would ever have considered being on "I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!" or ascribed to being a 'star'.   I particularly remember one comment of his: "On the long leg boundary is an ice cream boy who before long will be an ice cream man".  It's the little irrelevancies which make cricket commentary interesting.   One of the joys of longer format cricket is that one has the time to stop and stare and consider the ridiculous.  This legacy or baton seems to be carried today by the ECS members who feature on the BBC Essex’s cricket team.

The end of match summaries by E.W.Swanton I always found rather pompous, delivered like a sermon by an Archbishop, not a mere bishop.  But I was maybe too young then and too old now.   Maybe I've become an EWS myself.  Of course, nostalgia is not what it was nor ever has been.

CMJ was generally factual, rarely indulging in fripperies, though more so in public apparently.  The combination of CMJ and TEB always promised no nonsense commentary, unlike ‘Blowers’.

I like Vic Marks and Phil Tufnell.  Vic is clearly a Luddite, not given to twittering, once saying that the best way to contact him was care of Somerset County Cricket Club, not email, Facebook or Twitter.   Phil showed his skills as a lexicographer when explaining the difference between 'oscillation' and 'ocelots', the latter having little to do with bowling, being South American felines.

I'm not too sure about the new breed of cricket commentators who talk about batting and bowling units, proactivity, batting and bowling in 'areas', team building and 'taking positives forward'.  As Fred Trueman might say, "I don't know what's going on".

Andrew Appleby