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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 May, 2003, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK
Bearders is razor sharp
By Dan Warren

Bill Frindall in the commentary box
I don't mind being 'Bearders', although my wife isn't so keen on being 'Mrs Bearders'
Bill Frindall
Perhaps the closest thing there is to a human encyclopedia of cricket, Bill Frindall is a crucial member of the Test Match Special team.

But forget your traditional notions of a sporting anorak - as well as being a mine of statistics, Frindall would make a more than entertaining dinner party guest.

As you might expect, 36 years as the scorer for Test Match Special has given Frindall a library of anecdotes which would rival any showbiz raconteur.

And it is barely surprising that a man who describes working on Test Match Special as "like having Christmas every day' is in a permanently jocular mood.

"I made my debut in 1966 after an inspired piece of obituary watching!" he confesses.

"My predecessor Arthur Wrigley who had done the job since 1934 was the first scorer. Sadly he died suddenly so I phoned up the BBC, found out who was in charge of cricket and wrote a letter.

"It probably said 'Dear Sir, You must be one short!' - and it all started from there."

The first time we met he said: 'I hear you like driving. Well, I like drinking - we're going to get on well!'
Bill Frindall on John Arlott
The roll-call of legendary commentators with whom Frindall has had the pleasure of working goes on and on - John Arlott, Brian Johnston, Neville Oliver, not to mention the current crop of Blowers, Aggers and CMJ.

Frindall can tell more than a story or two about them - displaying an Alistair McGowan-esque talent for impersonation on the way.

"I was John Arlott's chauffeur for 15 years and the first time we met he said: 'I hear you like driving. Well, I like drinking - we're going to get on well!' He was marvellous."

TMS wouldn't be TMS without a spot of schoolboy silliness, and Frindall fondly recalls when Arlott described a "freaker" (he'd forgotten the correct word was "streaker") on the pitch.

"He's masculine, well-built, wearing plimsoles, and I'm sure if his mother's watching television, she'll recognise him," a bemused Arlott described to his amused colleagues.

Brian Johnston
Frindall has fond memories of Brian Johnston
No discussion of TMS would be complete without Brian 'Johnners' Johnston, responsible for two of TMS's great traditions - the inevitable nicknames and, of course, cakes.

"I'd worked with Brian before, but television sacked him because he was too funny," he said.

"He was great. The whole cakes thing began because he didn't get any tea one day.

"He said 'Well, it's disgraceful, Nancy's not brought me any tea!' (Nancy was in charge of catering).

"So a lady called Aileen Cohen who lived near Lord's lit her oven, baked a cake and came round the next day with it, and fronted up to the steward and said 'I've got a cake for Brian Johnston'.

"'That seems a fair swap, missy,' he replied.

"Anyway, she got into the commentary box and was thanked by name. So the ovens all over the world started cooking cakes and we have had them ever since.

"The nicknames came about simply because he couldn't remember our names.

"I was 'Bearders', I didn't mind that, but my wife doesn't like being Mrs Bearders very much.

"The funny one was Neville Oliver, 'The Doctor'. He was called that because his initials 'NO' appeared on the list of duties, and eventually everyone thought he was a doctor.

"By the time Australia made their third tour with him as commentator, he got a letter from a GP in Scotland inviting him to become his locum for a couple of weeks while he went on holiday!"

It might be stretching it to suggest that the TMS team can cure illness - but if laughter is the best medicine, everyone should be prescribed a dose.

Links to more Test Match Special stories


A breeze for Blowers
16 Jan 03  |  Test Match Special
Inside Test Match Special
16 Jan 03  |  Test Match Special


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