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18 August 2016

The most memorable moments of Test Match Special

From the quirky to the downright awkward, the best of this season's cricketing radio.

By Antonia Quirke

A mild gloom has settled along the towpath where I live – a flotilla of boats in the ­shadow of Lord’s. Purling under the perpetual racket of angle grinders and sanders wielded by boaters death-trappishly DIY’ing during clement weather, I found there was always the sound of Test Match Special, especially as the series against Pakistan drew to a close.

Highlights of the 2016 commentary: Blowers enthusing about his first Jägerbomb on a night out with Tuffers and Michael Vaughan (“I seemed to have a glass inside my glass”). If you go to Vaughan’s Facebook page, there’s a video of the event, with all of them drinking in a bar outside the ground, clearly worse for wear. (“Marvellous scenes here at Edgbaston!” someone yells.)

Simon Mann and Tuffers killing time be­tween balls. Mann: “Anchovies. Yay or nay?” Tuffers: “I don’t mind an anchovy.”

Day two of the second Test at Old Trafford: Blowers commenting on Joe Root making his 200. By the webcam in the box, we saw Blowers syncopating his distinct and flawless monologue with his hands, like a conductor with a furious passion (“Root is now punching his bat and saying, ‘I wanted that! I’ve got it!’”). The whole commentary box talking about first kisses and receiving an email from “Jenny, Sue, Agnes, Mary, Rebecca, Gertrude, Rachel, Fiona and Alex”, all claiming to have snogged Tuffers, ever the ladies’ man, at primary school. “That was a hectic morning,” Tuffers concedes.

But perhaps nothing could be as (toe-curlingly) memorable as an exchange at the first Test of the summer in May, when the Sri Lankans were wearing black armbands. The Sri Lankan guest commentator asked Geoffrey Boycott why he thought this was the case. “Probably their bowling,” Boycott creaked. Actually, his interlocutor said, it is to mark the recent floods and the 40 deaths thus far . . .

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Bar the occasional one-day international, the cricket is over for another year. No more Yasir Shah, nor the magnificent Younis Khan. “It’s the start of the end of the summer,” my neighbour Henry accepts, unhappily packing away his portable Roberts and hammering rust off his gunwales, scenting autumn. 

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This article appears in the 17 Aug 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Corbyn’s revenge