Despite this summer being his last as commentator, we haven’t heard much from Blowers on Test Match Special. Which makes it all the more important to tune in to his final hours at Lord’s this week, unexpectedly a decider between England and the West Indies.
Henry Blofeld’s 47-year trademarks have been noting passing buses and seagulls, but these weren’t mere eccentricities. He deeply comprehended such things as vital elements of a match, augurs of the ever-shifting mood. A friend at Headingley recently found himself watching a flock of pigeons at square leg, and wondering if there was perhaps seed down there that they were enjoying. “That’s cricket,” he reasoned. “Pigeons are very much involved.”
Highlights of the 2017 commentary so far:
Quintessential Blowers at Lord’s, on the spinner Keshav Maharaj: “And it’s Maharaj again, as always sleeves buttoned to his wrists, a sense of mystery, bowls to Bairstow who shuffles nervously across his stumps.”
Aggers waffling at the Oval: “Yes, both mice and giraffes have the same number of bones in the neck, and similarly Temba Bavuma and Steven Finn have the same number of bones in their necks, but are very different players.”
Boycott enduring Simon Mann’s tender tribute to Blowers during Day 4 at Lord’s against South Africa, by doggedly pretending it wasn’t happening:
Mann: “He was there in my first test as a commentator in Bulawayo, and it’s been an absolute joy and a privilege…”
Boycs [paying no mind]: “These lads’ll be looking forward to a day off…”
Mann [heedless of Boycott]: “We’ll miss the pigeons and the buses, the flamboyance. Go well Blowers into your retirement…”
Boycs [in an orgy of ignoring]: “In the old days they’d have had to play an exhibition match on the fifth day wouldn’t they, eh?”
Ed Smith and Phil Tufnell on gauging conditions in Scarborough:
Tuffers: “If the seagulls were all sat on the wall it’d be time for a bat; if they’re circling, have a bowl.”
Smith: “I remember someone would go down to the sea and come back and say ‘definitely bowl, the crabs are moving.’”
This, dear reader, is professional sport.
This article appears in the 06 Sep 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Corbyn’s next move