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Last Updated: Friday, 25 July, 2003, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Life in the box

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew reflects on his time with Test Match Special.

I don't think there's any other broadcasting programme quite like Test Match Special - it's simply amazing.

Having been a player I'd never really heard the likes of John Arlott or Brian Johnston so I didn't really know what all the fuss was about.

I can remember being sat down when I first got the BBC job, two years after retiring from cricket, and having a quick interview in Broadcasting House about the wonderful people I was following.

I didn't really understand the legacy, but it didn't take long
I hadn't even heard of some of them, and although I knew it had a great following, I was totally ignorant as far as the programme worked.

But I soon got a feeling for it as a summariser and as a result, when I moved into the commentary seat, I had a vague idea of how flexible and free you could be.

For 20-minute spells you can do basically whatever you want and just be yourself.

Your description of cricket is important, and it's our responsibility to make it sound interesting, fun and exciting - even when it isn't.

But your ability to go off and talk about other things is equally important.

In cricket you have time to wander off down strange, often dark, alleyways in the course of your commentary and there are weird and wonderful things you can talk about, simply because you have got to talk.

Steve Waugh celebrates his century in Sydney
Waugh equalled Sir Don Bradman's haul of 29 centuries at Sydney
That's what makes it a very special programme and that's why people enjoy it.

When you are having to entertain people, as well as droning on about bowling figures, the first thought that comes into your head isn't always the best one, but you hope you get more right than you do wrong.

One that I know I got right was when Steve Waugh made his century in Sydney in 2003 - my favourite moment of commentary.

If I ever get a more extraordinary 20-minute stint at the end of the day like that I'll be a very lucky man.

You can get presented with these great moments and you hope like mad you do it justice. That one worked.

And in a different way so did the dear old "legover" incident, which will always be a part of Brian and myself.

It helped establish me as having a sense of humour.

Whereas prior to it people probably thought 'Who is this chap?', it showed that I could have a bit of a laugh and was a breakthrough in that aspect.

And as well as the commentary, there are also the various people we have coming in and out of the box. You meet the most extraordinary people in this ridiculous job.

I've got photographs of me with Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and the Queen - and that's all due to TMS.

Links to more Test Match Special stories


The TMS team reveal all

Jonathan Agnew
03 May 03  |  Presenter profiles


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