Liverpool Cricket Club’s grand pavilion
I think I’ve mentioned before about my love of cricket and how much I am missing it because of our lockdown. But what I’m actually missing even more possibly than the cricket itself is the BBC’s Test Match Special commentary. And then I came across this (it’s an emotional ride but worth it) on BBC Sounds:-
I remember this particular interview by Jonathan Agnew very well and thought at the time it portrayed cricket so well and in the way I recall it from my childhood onwards. You see most of my cricket experiences have actually been via listening to it on the radio. Yes I played a bit and I go to watch a County Championship match when there’s one on in Southport or Liverpool but cricket is Test Match Special to me. And yes my Dad and I would usually turn off the TV sound and substitute the superior one of the radio, but of course this was when cricket was shown live on the BBC.
Sunny Southport’s Cricket Match
I’m reminded of a book written to celebrate the life of the BBC’s famous cricket presenter Brian Johnson entitled ‘Summers Will Never be the Same’ and hope that in the context of us having no cricket at all so far this season that summers will be the same one day.
I love listening to Test Match Special on the radio and in the days when test match cricket was available live on free-to-view TV I would turn off the sound on the TV and replace it with the Test Match Special commentary. I guess this was something many cricket lovers did and maybe those who still watch live test match cricket via pay-to-view channels still do it now.
This year the visiting teams were South Africa and the West Indies and a great summer of Test cricket it has proved to be. But I have one lingering disappointment/question that I can’t get out of my head – whatever happened to that wonderful Barbadian female cricket commentator Donna Symmonds?
Each time the West Indies appear over here or indeed England play in the Caribbean I hope that Donna will reappear on Test Match Special but it has not happened in a long time now. Indeed, I checked and it’s longer than I thought.
According to Wikipedia Symmonds was invited by the BBC to join the Test Match Special team during the 1998 England tour of the West Indies, making her the first female TMS commentator. She also provided commentary for the 1999 Cricket World Cup and the 2000 West Indian tour of England as part of the TMS team.
Thankfully quite a number of female cricket commentators are coming through on TMS these days – Isa Guha, Alison Michell and Ebony Rainford-Brent come to mind – but no Donna Symmonds again.
Maybe it was her honeyed Barbadian accent akin to the great and sadly missed Barbadian commentator Tony Cozier? I don’t know but it would be great to hear her once again – maybe next time TMS follows the England Team to the Caribbean?
During the lunch interval on the second day of the first test between Sri Lanka and England (yesterday) the Test Match Special Team reminisced about the man, who along with Brian Johnston, ranks as the greatest cricket commentators. I am of course talking about the late great John Arlott.
The discussion also touched on his Liberalism and him standing as a Parliamentary candidate for the old Liberal Party.
The link above takes you to a fellow Lib Dem’s web site where there is a 1955 10 minute video of a Liberal Party political broadcast which Arlott participates in. It looks and sounds like it is from a log gone age yet many of the Liberal principles and policies that come across are very much still appropriate some 70 years on.