Musings From The Padded Cell

Chairman Molly Speaks – Guest Article

Here’s another guest piece by Molly; once he gets the taste for it, well we all know how that ends. Read on and anybody else who fancies a go just let me know.

Many moons ago, shortly after BBC One’s Pebble Mill at One – for those who can remember – a plummy voice would add “And it’s back to the test match and Peter West.”

Curtains would be drawn again and feet up for the afternoon session.

Peter West with trademark pipe.

Old Peter would be sat perched on a gantry, tweed jacket, shirt and jazz hat tie from one of the nomadic clubs like I Zingari with his trusty briar poking from his top pocket.

You could trust Peter – none of that ready rubbed stuff for him – he would have flake and rub it himself from his tin.

Rupert Murdoch

Although probably only about 30 years ago this seems like the days of WG Grace et al compared with Uncle Rupert’s Monopoly of English cricket.

In those days cricket was on the BBC. Peter and his co-commentators Jim Laker, Richie Benaud, Tom Graveney, Lord Ted Dexter and Tony Lewis held sway with their ability to captivate the viewer.

“Good morning everybody.”

Benaud was, of course, peerless. Who can forget Headingley 1981 and his comment about a Botham six.

“Don’t bother looking for that, let alone chasing it. That’s gone straight into the confectionery stall and out again”

Peter Walker presented the John Player League over on BBC 2 on a Sunday afternoon, often from a small out ground which guaranteed big hitting without the need for artificial big bats.

Over on Radio 3 medium wave the Test Match Special team pontificated on most things and sometimes cricket.

Fred Trueman.

Typically Fred Trueman – FST – often failed to grasp what was going on out there “I just don’t understand what’s going on!” This merely reflected his contempt for the “modern” game way back then.

The poetry of John Arlott was embellished by stints whilst quaffing the odd claret. We even had the delightful pomposity of EW Swanton and his end of play summary.

Brian Johnston with the late bill Frindall in the background as well.

On TV and radio, Brian “Johnners” Johnston and his jolly japes were straight out of Jeeves & Wooster.

Unlike today’s multi-camera angles, coverage would be from one end of the ground only and not much else; certainly no cameraman trotting out behind the players as they entered the field.

Hawkeye was still a young lad from Undercliffe set to grace our own Bolton Villas CC many years later: Hot Spot was unheard of outside the bedroom and Snicko… well…what do you reckon Fred?

I can see the billowing clouds of heavenly pipe smoke.

If it rained it was into the archives and grainy coverage of old test matches like Underwood’s test in 1968, bowling on a bog after the spectators had mopped up to get the game on.

Jim Laker

Jim Laker’s 19-for at Old Trafford was a must watch if only for the leisurely pace the game seemed to flow at. However, my personal favourite was the oft-repeated Lancashire v Gloucester Gillette Cup Semi-Final from 1971.

This match actually stopped the BBC News for the first time ever with David Hughes whacking the ball to all parts with 24 off one John Mortimore over in stygian gloom and sodium street lighting at past 9 o’clock.

Watch this You Tube clip – you can keep your 20/20!

Whilst no one cannot deny that Sky coverage is far superior in all aspects these days, there remains in me a nostalgic love of those simpler times.

I reach for the off-switch now whenever I hear Allott or Willis and my fancy DAB Wireless is in severe danger when Graeme Swann is summarising.

“Talk about the cricket!” I scream inwardly “You are not a comedian!”

Sadly Tony Cozier passed away recently and Blowers is hanging up his tweeds at the end of this series so TMS will “evolve” further.

At least cricket’s self-appointed moral compass – Aggers – will be there mirroring EWS at times.

Hopefully Our Geoffrey will carry on; whilst not to everyone’s tastes, he at least makes points worthy of taking notice as does Ed Smith.

Geoffrey Boycott

I was warmed to see that BBC has recently won certain defined rights to show the game free to air again from 2020 although mainly the hit and giggle stuff.

I do hope that they take the opportunity to showcase the game to a younger audience and not relegate the highlights package to either side of midnight.

What good does that serve to a younger audience, many of whom will undoubtedly be viewing “live” cricket for the first time?

In recent years the loss of so many sporting events has relegated BBC Sport to shopping channel status, so this is a real opportunity to up their game.

With the correct commentators and gravitas, they are capable of showcasing a wonderful sport to an eager young audience.

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