Agnew: the BBC’s voice of cricketing reason

MICHAEL HENDERSON, in the Guardian, has no doubt who is the real voice for the game during this difficult period for English cricket

Who is speaking for English cricket? Somebody, that is, with a sense of the game’s history as well as its present; a sense of doing the right thing, as opposed to what may be commercially expedient; a sense of decency. Jonathan Agnew, the cricket correspondent of the BBC, that’s who.

Listening to Agnew last week, as the Stanford story broke, was to hear a master broadcaster at work, capable of providing a full commentary on events in the middle while pushing Clarke, his studio guest, for answers. Not pushing too hard. That would have gone against the spirit of the programme. But pushing hard enough to leave listeners in no doubt that Clarke was squirming. It made for compelling radio.

Two days later, as England finished one wicket short of victory, Agnew was in blazing form.

Brought in at the end of the 11pm news on Radio Halfwit, where a giggling presenter had just read out three emails of mind-boggling stupidity from the kind of folk who give the station its reputation, he bluntly informed her that she had no business giving airtime to such drivel, that it had been a fine Test, and West Indies had thoroughly deserved their draw.

For some years Agnew has been the pick of the sports correspondents at the BBC, along with Ian Robertson, just as Christopher Martin-Jenkins was before him. Cricket has been served wonderfully well by these men, not least because they speak in clear, grammatical English that used to be the corporation’s greatest glory. No longer, alas.

Agnew’s is a sane, reasonable voice in a game that is going potty. Fair-minded, even-tempered, he has become one of the finest specialists the BBC has ever had. In his understated way he speaks for the game: not the people who play it, nor those who run it, but for the saddened lovers of cricket who will be there when the Giles Clarkes of this world have shuffled into the shadows.

This is an extract from a piece published this week at To read the piece in full, click here

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