Issue 19 of The Nightwatchman is out now and available to buy here.
Matt Thacker introduces the latest issue of The Nightwatchman…
Many happy returns to Test Match Special, which is celebrating its 60th birthday this year. It is difficult to overstate the joy this brings to a community of cricket lovers for whom the first airing of “Soul Limbo” is the real start of the English summer. TMS is our trusted companion – accessible, good-natured, unstuffy, quirky and knowledgeable and we are delighted to bring you this special issue. Many of us have grown up and grown old alongside it and, without quite knowing why, even mourned the passing of beloved commentators or summarisers as we would a family member. The outpouring of affection, and the effusive news coverage, on the announcement of Henry Blofeld’s retirement, shows the place TMS holds in the nation’s heart.
TMS is the calming accompaniment to our busy lives and a welcome distraction from the daily grind. It does not scream at us as TV does, demanding attention like a fractious toddler. Rather it draws us in, conspiratorially, sharing in-jokes as if we were all sitting comfortably around the table for Sunday lunch.
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Three producers in 60 years is one part of the secret, and a policy of evolution over revolution is another. There is still a faint whiff of public school bias but decreasingly so. And the recent advent of female voices as commentators and summarisers has been welcome.
The interplay – and the tensions – between the cast members has always been part of the fun. These are complex people and, as in many changing-rooms and many families, some don’t really get on with others, and it is fascinating to see who likes to pick a fight, who are the peacemakers, and who is oblivious to it all.
When we asked people if they fancied writing a TMS-based piece for this issue, we were overwhelmed by the response. John Arlott was the commentator that most wanted to write about, with both Simon Barnes and Tim Beard seduced by his poetic nature. Elsewhere, Tim de Lisle goes in to bat for Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Chris Waters gives an insight into Fred Trueman and Anthony Gibson provides an enlightening and fair-minded piece on his father Alan.
And we are well represented by the current team – Jonathan Agnew, Adam Mountford, Andy Zaltzman, Vic Marks, Dan Norcross and Adam Collins all give us a privileged inside view. Meanwhile, Scott Murray takes on one of sport’s greatest theme tunes, Alan Tyers delves into the Shipping Forecast, and Benj Moorehead reveals he listens to entire Tests on catch-up well after they have finished. Truly, something for everyone.
If you would like to write for us or just let us know what you think about The Nightwatchman, good or bad, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We read every submission (but promise nothing) that fulfils our criteria: that articles should touch on cricket (however tangentially) and are original, well written and thought-provoking.
Matt Thacker, September 2017