Wednesday, 27 January 2016


One of the better feelings to be had in this line of work is when someone relatively famous* – that is, someone who you imagine is far too busy to be chatting to you – is generous with their time. Such was the case with Jonathan Agnew who, either side of a man coming to fix his oven, gave me the benefit of his broadcasting wisdom over a long, rambling hour on Skype. 

In one way, it was a fairly difficult interview to conduct. So fulsome were his replies that he often ended up answering three or four questions at once, all of which had me scrabbling down my notes, furiously crossing out while also scribbling keywords, hopefully to have him expand on a throwaway remark or observation. 

It was hard work, but in another sense it was very easy, because you start to develop a 'second ear' which follows the conversational flow not so much as would anyone in any ordinary exchange – i.e. to grasp meaning and elicit information –but to listen for quotable lines, for juice. Aggers was a constant stream of juice. Without doubt the most eloquent interviewee I've had. 

That's not to say I agree with everything he said. On the technical matters of broadcasting, I defer to his authority. But on strictly cricketing matters I find he can be a little rash, a little quick to offer opinions, often conservative opinions. Nonetheless, that doesn't alter the fact that he's very engaging company (he has since given me a couple of other interviews, one for my book, another for a piece in The Cricketer (about the Stanford T20 game in 2008) and definitely someone you'd want to have a beer with.

It's a real shame, I think, that this piece got less than a thousand social media shares, especially given how the story of Shahid Afridi (an interesting yarn, no doubt, but pretty niche) received over 25,000. 

* I say relatively famous. There was an episode of Pointless recently that showed five pictures of sports broadcasters, and Aggers was the lowest score: that is, the best answer. My cricket blindness prevented me from realizing this. I went for Claire Balding, the second highest. The others were Hazel Irving, Peter Alliss and Bobby George.

Talking Cricket: Jonathan Agnew

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