Agnew’s dressing gown and Bumble’s dog: it’s TMS and Sky Cricket, but not as we know it –

Posted: January 19, 2021 at 9:17 am

On Sky, they are commentating off the TV pictures: David Lloyd has been on duty from his Lancashire home with the family dog on his lap, and an even more whimsical flight of fancy on his tongue than we have come to expect in the daylight hours. His wife, he said, had managed to lock his microphone in the shed and a new one had to be couriered. And just as well; we might otherwise have missed out on a commentary segment about the private life of thelred the Unready and what got William the Conqueror out of bed in the mornings. It made the viewer worry they had overdone it on the cheeseboard the previous evening.

A collection of former England players has been assembled in the Sky studios in Isleworth, all of them rightly united in admiration at the exquisite artistic taste of Kumar Sangakkara. The Sri Lankan legend has been dispensing his wisdom from what Michael Atherton called his palatial villa in the Galle fort, positioning his camera in front of a delightful purple and pink impressionist painting by a Sri Lankan artist called Ruwan Prasanna.

The painting is evocative of a lifetime of following England abroad through the nights: at once vivid and dreamy. It is a special entertainment pursuit, that mixture of sleepy satisfaction at enjoying a treat when it would be much more sensible to be asleep and the jolt of adrenaline and horror when Johnners or CMJ or Aggers crackles through the radio under the pillow, news of another English duck and Australia rampant. This winter there is more yearning for something beyond the day-to-day than usual, and both Sky and BBC Radio have done a fine job for devotees despite the challenges.

Skys coverage has arguably been a bit more discursive and less technical or analytical than when they have access to a full range of on-screen gizmos, but no less thoughtful and fair. There have been a few moments of silence while the video link-ups between the very, very socially distanced pundits have ground into gear, but a moment or so of quiet at 5am is not a bad thing. TMS is much as ever, and reassuringly so.

For me, a visual image that will define this sporting era was Root celebrating his ton and waving to the lone England cricket fan in the stands, a little tribute to something poignant and defiant about the human need to keep trying, to keep making the best of it, to dig in and get through til tea.

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Agnew's dressing gown and Bumble's dog: it's TMS and Sky Cricket, but not as we know it -

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