That one line from Brian Johnston sums up BBC’s Test Match Special for me. Witty, wicked, irreverent, but without an extra word.
It is a tribute to their quality that notwithstanding competition from newer forms of media like television and the Internet and a decline in the popularity of test match cricket (especially when England was so depressingly unsuccessful at it for a such a long time), TMS has survived and thrived for so long. And this without changing much – the commentary still has an old-world charm about it and does not rely on statistics and gimmicks to sustain itself. I reckon the key to their longevity and success is the depth of knowledge of the commentators and the joy with which they appear to be doing their jobs. Not to mention their wit and humour.
Granted cricket does offer its share of opportunities for innuendo, what with terms like no ball, wide, hook, slip, fine leg, third man and, if I may be permitted some shameless self-promotion, cow corner; but it takes a fine bunch to take advantage of these opportunities and make hay with them. And then take it to a different level with incidents like the classic “leg over” commentary.
The wikipedia entry on TMS provides a good level of detail on them.
Great half century, TMS. Hope you make it to three figures.