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EDITIONS

  Friday, 1 September, 2000, 12:43 GMT 13:43 UK
Keeping cricket lovers smiling
The view from the box
The TMS team survey The Oval action
BBC Sport Online's Steve Cresswell discovers the delights of a day spent with Radio 4's Test Match Special team.

Think of the TMS team and chances are you picture a crew with a feverish passion for cricket surrounded by cakes and sandwiches sent in by grateful listeners.

Truth is, you wouldn't be far wrong - the cakes are evident and merely illustrate the warmth the team inspires in cricket lovers all over the world.

While the space in the commentary box may be cramped it would be impossible to find a room big enough to accommodate the breadth and depth of characters, personalities and knowledge in evidence.

Broadcast since 1957, the majority of the current team have been together for a long time as producer Peter Baxter explains.

Henry Blofeld
Henry Blofeld is one of the team's colourful characters
"Our newest recruit, you might say, is young Agnew and he has been with us for 10 years, but we still regard him as the new boy. I suppose he's almost getting to be a bit of a regular now.

"As a team we've shared a lot of things around the years and not just in England, but also most of us have been on tour so we've seen some of the strange things you get served up with in the way of commentary facilities."

Expertise

Alongside the seasoned pros such as Baxter, Agnew, Christopher Martin-Jenkins and Henry Blofeld, are the ably supporting Vic Marks, Sir Viv Richards and Graeme 'Foxy' Fowler.

Add the statistical brain of Bill Frindall, meticulously filling in his scoring book in the corner, and chipping into the commentary to announce the latest records, and you have a 'Dream Team'.

Bill Frindall's statistics are meticulously updated
Bill Frindall's statistics are meticulously updated
Watch a Test Match without tuning into TMS, whether you're by the boundary rope or in the comfort of your armchair, and you are missing out.

The show has thrown up plenty of laughs over the years, episodes such as the late Brian Johnston and Aggers in stitches after an Ian Botham dismissal at The Oval against the West Indies.

But these jokes aren't confined to the air waves. For every humourous remark that reaches the listener, countless others are bandied around the commentary box.

Mischievous

It wouldn't be unfair to suggest that this group of experienced broadcasters and former Test greats are almost like a bunch of mischievous school kids when they get together.

But therein lies the success of the show - the ability to connect with and entertain its audience and with the steady stream of e-mails coming in from listeners, some slightly too colourful for broadcast but sparking further hysterics from the team (Edith Grove you know who you are!) it is clear their efforts are appreciated.

And they are efforts that are set to continue for a long time to come explains Baxter.

"We have a five-year contract with the ECB which is very encouraging and a great commitment from Radio 4 to keep on carrying Test Match Special.

"We've got to keep thinking of the different ways that our information is put over.

"I've always been a great believer in radio and I don't believe - whatever technology comes up with - that radio will ever die because the great thing about it is that you can do something else while you're listening."


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