TMS bowled out by TalkSport but stop weeping, change is sometimes good

first_imgShare on Twitter Ed Smith in frame to be named as England’s new national selector Read more Reuse this content There are good reasons why cricket on the BBC is an emotive issue. The corporation played a hand in keeping the sport going when it might have died after the second world war, re-spinning its mass popularity into the fabric of the summer. Plenty of us wouldn’t have known cricket existed but for the BBC – Peter West, Tony Lewis and all that, smiling avuncular men in blazers staring right into the camera on a grey Tuesday morning in the dog days of the summer.Plus on a more basic level Test Match Special does a fine job, credit to some brilliant journalists and producers. Simon Mann, Charles Dagnall, Isa Guha, Daniel Norcross and the rest are all excellent. Vic Marks, also of these pages, offers the kind of voice you do not often hear on any media, determinedly anti-sensational voice, wryly humorous in hectoring times. TalkSport will have a huge job on its hands just trying to meet the same standards of analysis and reporting.It should be said Agnew is also a brilliant broadcaster, and hugely popular too, the best out there at simply pointing himself at his sport and talking, with a wonderfully easy style. But he is also a part of why some may welcome a bit of variation, those moments where the sense of vital work being done, of weepy self-importance slips into something else. Imagine the phrase “Bumptious BBC self-regard” baked in a nuclear reactor until it finally grows arms and legs, escapes, kits itself out in chinos and begins talking in a cosy, righteous tone about delivering a vital national service.There is nothing in the rules that says this is the way cricket must be presented, or that everyone will like it. The endless goodbye to Henry Blofeld, for example, was fair enough but I’ve also heard cricket-loving kids say the Blofeld tone is why lots of other kids their age think cricket is just for posh, entitled people. They cringe at the idea of introducing their football-loving schoolmates to the great summer sport only to find Blofeld on, flapping about cakes and pigeons and dear old things. You what, mate?On the other hand new things can be good. Competition can be good. Giving someone else a go can give everyone a lift. At which point enter, to the sound of Darth Vader’s march, the dreaded TalkSport. The new kid will not be to everyone’s taste at first. It can be blokey and relentless, far more tabloid in style and tone. Not to mention overly obsessed with wood stain and van hire, adverts that will jar with the rhythms at first, although past broadcasts suggests this quickly fades. Stop all the clocks. Stamp a single steel-toed work boot through Mrs Blenkinsop’s sensational triple-tiered Victoria sponge. Prevent the dog from barking with a bag of gravel. For BBC Test Match Special is dead. Or at least, suspended for a bit over the autumn and winter.Instead commercial radio is back in the shape of TalkSport, which has outbid the BBC for rights to England’s autumn and winter Test tours to Sri Lanka and West Indies. And nothing now can ever come to any good. Except, of course for the fact it may actually be all right. Share via Email Sign up to the Spin – our weekly cricket round-up Read more Share on WhatsApp Since you’re here… Share on Facebook There are deeper currents too. TalkSport is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which bought the Wireless Group two years ago. Plenty will object to the most ruthless and iconoclastic of media families taking over the presentation of their beloved five-day game. On the other hand the cricket boards of Sri Lanka and West Indies will be grateful for extra funds the BBC would not stretch to.Plus there is plenty of evidence to suggest the product will be decent. Early rumours suggest the excellent Steve Harmison and – yes – even the great David Lloyd may be regulars. Change, different voices, a new audience: these are things cricket has needed for a while. So save the tear-soaked cake crumbs, the sense of bumptious entitlement. You never know, the new world may not be so terrible after all. Topics Read more Support The Guardian comment Cricket TalkSport outbids BBC to secure rights for forthcoming England cricket tours Share on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn A quick census of the loudest online voices suggests the general response to this news has been somewhere on the spectrum between regret, dismay and a great swirling fudge of mawkish, cake-fondling, doily-clutching Middle England horror.Understandably so, too. It is a mark of the way Test cricket is cherished in England that the idea of different voices bringing it into your kitchen or down through the headphones in the insomniac hours is like a familial loss. Test Match Special is much-loved. For many people its enforced break during the winter will be an absence that goes beyond sport, a missing beat in the rhythms of the day.And yet there are limits to this. The sense of mild hysteria, the social media suggestion that losing TMS for a few months is “worse than Brexit” seems a little overdone. For a start someone should probably check on Jonathan Agnew, who seems to think his employer being outbid for some broadcast rights is a national disaster on the scale of the death of Princess Diana and that ice skating woman falling over all rolled into one. Imagine Princess Diana falling over in an ice skating race, thereby accidentally derailing Charlotte Dujardin’s quest for dressage gold, while simultaneously being denied the right to broadcast cricket on the BBC. That’s how bad we’re talking.Or at least this appears to be the case judging by Agnew’s funereal tweets on the subject. Not only is the self-righteous tone a provocation to every other working broadcaster involved in covering the sport, it also does a disservice to the genuine depth of feeling around this. … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. 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