An era came to an end at Lord’s on Saturday. It was the last time the iconic Henry Blofeld, one of the greatest cricket broadcasters of all time, was on Test duty for the BBC .
It is truly the end of an era because Blofeld is the last of the legends of the Test Match Special team that made following cricket on radio such a pleasure. The other men who, with Blofeld, turned the ‘TMS’ into such a beloved institution — John Arlott, Brian Johnston, Don Mosey and Christopher Martin-Jenkins — are all gone now.
Even in a company as august as that, Blofeld has had a place of his own. His distinct voice, the Etonian accent and a penchant for describing the surroundings of the stadium — especially buses — endeared him to his listeners.
For Indian cricket fans, he was more familiar than his colleagues on the TMS because of his stint on television. Some might recall his fascination, during a series in Sharjah, for earrings worn by the spectators.
Long before he turned to television, Blofeld’s was a familiar voice to the Indian cricket fan, thanks to the BBC World Service , which used to broadcast all the international matches played in England to its listeners in South Asia and the Caribbean.
This writer discovered the joy of cricket commentary during the 1983 World Cup, and never failed to tune in to the BBC’s cricket programming after that, right until the service was discontinued. The broadcasts would begin on the 16m band at 3.15 p.m., and would later switch to the 31m. All you needed was a good transistor to enjoy uninterrupted cricket from England.
Each one of the TMS team was a legend, and so delightfully different from each other. The exuberance of Johnston, the deep voice and measured style of Mosey, the clarity with which Martin-Jenkins spoke, you cannot help feeling nostalgic, especially given the overall quality of cricket commentary these days.
There were also the two outstanding “summarisers” as the BBC likes to call them — Trevor Bailey and Fred Trueman — and scorer and statistician Bill Frindall, who enhanced the TMS.
Blofeld stayed on after they all left the BBC’s commentary box. And he has been such a delight, too.
Thank you, ‘Blowers’. It has been a joy listening to you all these years.
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