Mike Selvey, the Guardian‘s cricket correspondent and erstwhile expert summariser on BBC Radio’s Test Match Special, has sparked a war of words over the much-loved broadcasting institution’s perceived “dumbing down” by its new producer, whose knowledge of cricket he describes as “superficial” and his treatment as “disrespectful”.
Selvey, the former Middlesex, Glamorgan and England medium pacer, launched his attack in the letters page of the forthcoming November edition of Wisden Cricketer Magazine, responding to comments in a previous issue from Adam Mountford, who took over as producer of TMS earlier this year.
Following the retirement of Peter Baxter , who had produced the programme for 41 years, there has been widespread speculation that the status of TMS is not guaranteed.
Selvey had admitted to being disappointed at being dropped from the summariser roster by Mountford, saying, “Once upon a time TMS was part of a great tradition of BBC radio.
“But they are bringing in commentators with little knowledge of the game, especially of the cadences of Test match cricket.”
Mountford responded through the magazine suggesting that he was “sure Mike will continue to join us in the TMS box from time to time to offer his views on the game”.
Previously, Mountford had worked as a producer on Radio 5 Live’s football coverage. He has been criticised for allowing the usually reverential tones of TMS to adopt a “laddish” air, after drafting in football commentators from 5 Live to what was once the home of the likes of EW Swanton, John Arlott and Brian Johnston.
Selvey has not been placated by Mountford’s offer.
In the next issue of Wisden Cricketer, Selvey fires off this beamer in the letters column:
“The blithe statement by Test Match Special producer Adam Mountford … is staggering in its presumption, coming as it does from a fellow who was complicit in axing me from the programme, offered not a single word of explanation despite having had since the middle of June to do so and, were it not for the kind intervention of Jon Agnew in the aftermath of the final Test, would have allowed 24 years of broadcasting on the programme to pass without comment on air.
“That was just disrespectful from someone whose involvement in cricket has been relatively brief and superficial and may well prove transient and whose fledgling tenure of TMS has hardly been a bowl of cherries.”