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John Littlerichard: A lot of hot air - the demise of TMS

  • Test Match Not So Special
  • Sorry Surrey's Shoaib Shame

Test Match Not So Special

It has been the soundtrack of British summers since 1957.

As a boy I fell in love with the distinctive Hampshire burr of John Arlott, the schoolboy japery of Brian Johnson and the gruff Yorkshire plain speaking of the brilliant Freddie Trueman.

But now with the arrival of new producer Adam Mountford dear old TMS has seen more tampering since the last time Gary Glitter presented the prizes at the blind school sports day.

picture of the Test Match Special team
The Test Match Special team in happier times.

There are still good broadcasters there - Aggers, Boycott and CMJ - but the recent changes don't auger well for this bastion of English broadcasting. Long-serving summariser Mike Selvey has been jettisoned and we're promised more of Sir Viv Richards, Graham Gooch and Alec Stewart.

They fit the demographics apparently. To use modern parlance: they tick the right boxes.

Three decent players but not a commentating dream team. Sir Viv - who once took a year off because of his piles - is about as interesting as Ken Barlow talking about Bettabuys policy on shopping trolleys. Meanwhile Gooch's obsessive love affair with Essex shows no sign of abating. We better gird our collective loins for more endless diatribes about how James Foster is the best wicket keeper in history. And as for Alec Stewart, surely his role as a players agent must compromise his impartiality. Perhaps he'll start referring to himself as 'Alec Stewart' all the time again just to confuse us.

Let's hope for Sir Viv's sake that his 'Ashley Giles' don't play up during a long day in the summariser's chair.

At least we have seen the back of the hardest working man in broadcasting: Shaun Pollock, who has had more jobs this summer than The Chuckle Brothers.

Elsewhere on the BBC's cricket coverage we get the jolly hockey stick contributions of Alison Mitchell, that mumbling cretin Alex Tudor - a man with the same level of articulacy and clarity as Joey Deacon's budgie - and token Scot Dougie Brown.

Suddenly it all becomes clear.

TMS has fallen victim to the Politically Correct brigade running the Beeb these days. Instead of cake in the commentary box we will soon be hearing the sound of Blowers getting his chops around a plate organic Fairtrade rice crackers.

It's also sad that Mountford seems so proud of the extremely unfunny 'fishing rod' incident. You could be forgiven for thinking that the whole thing was a stunt to get publicity. Next up they will be getting Julian Clary in to chuck in a few other double entendres to keep the listening figures up. Mountford's dream is for Holding and Willey to make a comeback alongside some new batsman called Sucking.

Un bloody believable!

Sorry Surrey's Shoaib Shame

picture of Shoaib Akhtar with slapper
Akhtar prepares for his latest comeback with 'Fitness Coach' Madam Fifi.

He makes Amy Whinehouse look like Mother Theresa but for some unfathomable reason he's got a contract to spend the last couple of weeks of the Championship season saving Surrey from disaster.

Who else but Shoaib Akhtar.

Ask the respective Chairmen of Somerset, Worcestershire or Durham and they will tell you how they got their fingers burnt quicker than Stevie Wonder making cheese on toast.

Akhtar is happy to take the cash but you have more chance of seeing Lord Lucan opening the bowling for you than the fragile 33-year-old paceman. These days most of his 'injuries' occur in dodgy nightclubs rather than in the middle. Add a history of drug abuse that would shame the average touring American funk band of the 70s and you have a monumental waste of money. Sadly, if he is seen at all, the Rawalpindi Express is now more like Thomas the Tank Engine on the wrong type of snow.

It's shocking that a team like Surrey have the stupidity to try and salvage their season by employing a has-been disgrace like Akhtar when the real cause of their decline (anyone else remember their Manchester United of cricket claims?) is clear for all to see: poor management, rotten signings - Chris Schofield, Jimmy Ormond, Ed Giddens, the recent triumvirate of has-beens: Lewis, Saqlain and Tudor - and a misplaced arrogance that has backfired big time.

Enjoy life in Division Two lads. I think Daffy De Freitas might be free next season.