During the long summer holidays of my youth, I could quite happily while away whole days watching test match cricket.
I would be eagerly sat in front of the TV as the clock reached 11.25am (late starts in those days), waiting for the familiar calypso music to begin, heralding in all probablility a view of the covers sitting defiantly over the pitch as groundsmen in sou’westers looked on somewhat forelornly.
But when play did commence, there was something delightfully relaxed and civilised about the pace of the game. From the players (considerably less buffed in those days) huffing and puffing after the ball in the outfield, to the spectators in deckchairs nodding off beneath knotted hankerchiefs, to me it captured the essence of a traditional English summer.
Before long, I also discovered the delights of Test Match Special on the radio and I was hooked. Initially appearing on Radio 3 before migrating to its shiny new cousin BBC Five Live, it provided the most wonderful entertainment in its own right, notwithstanding its actual coverage of the game.
(Indeed, I know of many people who hated cricket, but never missed the commentary).
Commentators like John Arlott and Brian Johnston (both RIP) had such rich vocabularies and such a charmingly, avuncular delivery that whether they were describing a particularly significant passage of play or just commenting on a cake that had been dropped off at the commentary box by one of their adoring fans, they always painted glorious images in the mind.
Yesterday was the first day of the test match series here in England (unaffected by rain, I’m pleased to report), so, with some trepidation, I once again I tuned in to Test Match Special. It was as if I hadn’t been away.
Sure the cast has changed a bit, but I’m pleased to say that Blowers, Aggers, Tuffers, Bumble and the crew are maintaining the very highest standards of verbal meanderings as pioneered by Johnners and co all those years ago.
It promises to be a hugely enjoyable summer.