The Sound of cricket

Henry Blofeld 



The Sound of Cricket 


I love cricket and I love music . I love listening as much as, or possibly more than, seeing. If I was in the unfortunate position to have to make a choice between loosing my sight or my hearing I would choose to lose sight. 

Without  sight I could still enjoy Music and still play, write and listen to music. I could also still enjoy cricket through the portal of Test Match Special. I could even play a special form of cricket  where the ball has bells in it.


Characters & Cricket


Cricket has always had characters right the way back to W.G Grace himself.More recently in England colours players like  Jack Russell, Derek Randell  spring to mind. In the commentary box of TMS there have been some  colourful figures too, among them E.W. Swanton, Brian Johnston and Fred Truman but perhaps the king of them all in recent times has been Henry Blofeld




Henry Calthorpe Blowfeld  hails from Norfolk and was a promising schoolboy cricketer  standing behind the stumps as wicket keeper for Eton. In 1956, Blofeld scored 104 not out for a Public Schools team against the Combined Services, and he was given the Cricket Society's award for the most promising young player of the season.  He was knocked unconscious after colliding with a bus while riding his push bike and remained so for a month. Despite this accident he went on to play for Cambridge University and therefore played almost  20 first class matches.


He has recently retired from commentary on TMS and his lap of honour at Lords was met with great warmth and a standing ovation from a packed house.  His unique style and warm toned voice described Cricket for the best part of  45 years for the BBC from the crackle and hiss of AM radio to the crystal clarity of the DAB era. 


Although known for mentioning  things outside the game such as Planes Cranes and Pigeons it was his rich description of the game that really made him special. Over recent years the tone of TMS has moved from Oxbridge to a more even mix  of  accents from different regions of Britain and with Henry’s  departure  perhaps the last plumy voice of TMS falls silent taking with it  a bit of the Englishness of P.G. Wodehouse, of Just William, of  Molesworth.


For me the sound of Henry’s clarification of field positions as the bowler run’s in the, the subsequent flurry of activity as the ball is bowled, the stroke the described and the fielder and his position  mentioned as the ball is stopped has been one of life’s great pleasures.  The sing song rise and fall of his voice, the anticipation of a potential wicket  and the frequent drawn out perfect cadence of “and… there… is… no… run”  has delighted me for years. His highly excited shouts of “ Bowled Him!” or  the Leg before wicket cry of “ Plumbers!”  will be with me for the rest of my life.He is and has been a true English Eccentric  I will miss his idiosyncratic  turn of phrase and the general air of joy he brought to the commentary box ,the sound of cricket will be different from now on. For me the heir to Blowers may be Daniel Norcross, whose use of phrases like  “dispatched the ball with Goweresque litotes” have a touch of Blowers about them.He is an alumnus of Dulwich College (joining P.G.Wodehouse & Raymond Chandler amongst others) and  a classics graduate of Oxford University ,  raw materials that could come together with his capricious personality to forge a path as one of the Characters of Cricket Commentary.


There is a book by Christopher Martin-Jenkins, another great TMS commentator sadly no longer with us,  celebrating Brian Johnston A.K.A .’Jonners’ , called “Summers will never be the same”. I used to think that a somewhat sentimental title, but as the brightly dressed, upper crust, bon viveur that is Henry Blofeld hangs up his microphone I understand the rose tinted  emotion and say


'Summers will never sound the same'