Monday, 1 August 2011

Geoffrey Boycott apologises to Aggers

I wonder how many people have ever received an apology from Sir Geoffrey Boycott, resident loon in the Test Match Special commentary box.

Fiery has something of a reputation for being a combative character, which is, of course, a euphemism for narky old fruitloop, but we've always had a soft spot for Geoffrey.

The man's mischievous mirth, particularly at the misfortune of others, is a delight to behold, particularly in his partnership with Aggers on TMS - an unlikely due that put one in mind of Walter Matthau and Jack Lemon.

The best example of Boycott's spiteful hooting is the famous 'Bad luck you Aussies!' - a sound clip I'd gladly have as a ringtone.

The second Test against India at Trent Bridge, however, brought forth a completely different side of Boycs, who apologised to an astonished, and clearly rather touched, Agnew for being 'too forceful' in his commentary on Bell's run out that wasn't the previous day.

I didn't hear it - I expect Fiery called Aggers an idiot or something similar - but have been delighting in this peculiar, rather lovely exchange on the radio all day.

There's a wonderful lack of side to Boycott, especially evident in his gauche apology to Agnew, whom he addresses bashfully as his "best friend". Agnew is so taken aback he can initially manage a simple "...Geoffrey," like a colleague on the receiving end of a passionate, if somewhat unexpected, emotional confession.

And there they are - the words probably every single person who has ever met the man has failed to elicit.

"I'm sorry."

Normal service is soon resumed with some spluttering laughter - and it ends with an amusing observation from Aggers that "it's Yorkshire day as well," - completing the image of Boycott and Agnew as a pair of old bachelors in a parallel world version of Radio 4 comedy series The Shuttleworths.

I think that's how we all like to imagine these ridiculous fellows, perhaps in some sort of nursing home with a shed at the bottom of the garden, from which they somehow manage to broadcast to Radio 4 Longwave. One pouring tea, another cutting cake. Tufnell round the back smoking a rollie.

It's 30 seconds that encapsulates TMS beautifully. Funny and touching. And quite, quite mad.


  1. Absolutely!

    I listened to the initial exchange between Boycott and Aggers after the Bell "runout" incident.
    That in itself was a shocking piece of cricket that fortunately (in my opinion) had a happy resolution. But really that is another story.

    The Bell incident on Sunday provoked an exchange of views in the TMS box and of course there is never any "grey" zone with Fiery. Listening to the conversation though, I DID feel as if Boycott overstepped the line a little in belittling some of Agnews views. These are both men who passionately love the game of course and each is entitled to his opinion. I was a bit disappointed with Boycott that evening.

    But as you posted, their first moments on air together the next day was one of those perfect little vignettes that could only happen in cricket. It says a lot about the character of a man who can say those words "I'm sorry" on live radio. Well played, sirs.

  2. Haha, I heard this and found it similarly delightful. Agnew has such a dry, sharp, mischievous wit. Working with him must be hysterical - our country's finest sports broadcaster, I'd suggest.

  3. agree totally,i was listening live and was almost as shocked/touched as aggers. fiery now lives in jersey (where i was born and brought up) and one of my best mates does fierys painting and decorating,he dosen't have a bad word to say about him despite his reputation. you grow up watching and listening to someone and think you know them but really you have no idea.

  4. One of many wonderful moments on Test Match Special over the years. I agree with CRGreenhough that Agnew is the country's finest sports broadcaster. I was listening to him just now during the Third Test in New Zealand, and it was such a joy that I completely forgot how absymally England are performing. As soon as he went off air - and attention turned from listeners' tweeted suggestions to what he should bring back from Auckland for his wife whom he had accidentally annoyed during the previous day's commentary, to the state of the game - I couldn't stand any more, and switched off.

    When Brian Johnston passed away, I didn't think TMS would be nearly as good, but Aggers has kept the flame alive. With help from various idiosyncratic sidekicks, Boycott and Blowers chief among them.


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