In The Box
With the stars of BBC Radio's Test Match Special commentary box.
Following the huge success of Sticky Wicket and Rain Stops Play, the team of raconteurs from BBC Radio's Test Match Special are on the road again with their show - In The Box which now has 100 terrific shows under its belt.
Ralph Dellor once again hosts this hilarious and memorable evening with Test Match Special commentators and cricketing legends as they recall their favourite anecdotes from life In The Box.
The list of recent guests includes former England captains, Mike Gatting and Graham Gooch, Christopher Martin- Jenkins, Angus Fraser, David Graveney and the current chairman of selectors, Geoff Miller, former New Zealand captain Jeremy Coney and current commentary box favourite Jonathan 'Aggers' Agnew.
This show is a must for sports fans in general and cricket fans in particular. During the first half of the show Ralph and three guests will talk through career highlights, share anecdotes and thoroughly entertain you with classic clips and their own insight.
The second half of the show is devoted to a question and answer session with the audience submitting their questions - both serious and funny - for the panel to chew over.
It is a wonderful chance to get the insight of characters who are at the very top of the sport and it is amazing how quickly the time passes with laughter all the way.
As Mike Gatting says, “It's a really warm, fun evening and if you love cricket and you want to listen to cricket stories, this is one to come along to. All the people in the show have been at the top of their game, whether Test players or in the commentary box, so they know the game really well and have some wonderful tales to tell.”
The show is in two halves of roughly an hour each. The first half is given over to tales from the careers of our star guests and the second half to a question and answer session involving the audience.
This show is in its third incarnation having toured under the names Sticky Wicket and Rain Stops Play and has played in theatres full of cricket enthusiasts across the UK.
Over 100 theatres and cricket loving veues have hosted this show in the UK.
Info to follow
15th Buxton Opera House
17th Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa
6th Solihull Arts Complex
9th The Brewhouse, Taunton
23rd Leicester Little Theatre 0116 255 1302 thelittletheatre.net
The host of In the Box, Ralph Dellor was one of the founders of the show. He made his broadcasting debut in 1970, since when he has had an extensive career in radio, TV and as a written journalist. He originally played club cricket in Essex, for whom he still plays in the 60+ side, before moving to Berkshire. Along the way he has had a varied broadcasting career in this country and overseas, and was for several years the presenter of Test Match Special before moving from the studio to the commentary box. In an eclectic career, he has visited some 24 countries through cricket alone, either playing, commentating or as a coach. Unlikely as it might appear, he was coach of the Norwegian national side that won three European cricket titles between 2003 and 2006. He was also on the Oxford University CC coaching staff for nine years, while his most notable non-cricket sporting achievement was to record the second-slowest time on the Cresta Run in St. Moritz, after Errol Flynn!
Jonathan Agnew was a very successful fast bowler with Leicestershire – good enough to earn three England Test appearances and to take 101 first-class wickets in 1987. He should certainly have come back into the selectors’ minds at that point, for he was bowling better than ever, but he was ignored and retired from cricket at the end of the 1988 season to take up various journalistic assignments before becoming the BBC’s cricket correspondent. He has grown in stature in this role to become one of the most popular, authoritative and recognised voices in the game, while maintaining the sense of fun and enjoyment that has characterised Test Match Special over the years. In 1992 he answered an emergency plea from an injury-hit Leicestershire to appear in the semi-final of the NatWest Trophy. Straight from the commentary box, he took one for 31 in 12 tight overs to help his side to the final. He did not venture from the commentary box again, finding it far safer to wield the microphone than a cricket bat. There was never any danger of him being designated an all-rounder on the field.
A very popular visitor to the commentary box, this former New Zealand captain has slipped easily into the show's cast list. A gifted raconteur, as befits a school teacher, he was a successful batsman who averaged 37.57 in his 52 Tests, a typical Kiwi medium-pace bowler and a fine fielder. He took over his country's captaincy in 1984-85 and in 1986 led New Zealand to their first series win in England. He had also featured in a record seventh wicket stand with his captain Geoff Howarth in the 1979-80 series win against the then mighty West Indies – a result that shook the cricketing world. He retired from playing in 1987 and moved into the commentary box, where his humour was welcomed along with his shrewd cricketing analysis and boundless enthusiasm. He is now resident in England.
Mike Gatting personified cricket at Lord’s for nearly 20 years with Middlesex and England as much as Old Father Time himself, although it must be said that the weather-vane is of more slender proportions. Never a lithe figure, his girth failed to impede his prowess as a batsman of the highest class, with his Popeye-like forearms (after spinach!) allowing him to impose himself on the bowling, especially the spinners who he appeared to regard as an affront to his batting skills. The England selectors recognised his talent by selecting him for his first tour at the age of 20. However, he played 54 innings before registering the first of his ten hundreds for England. The success that followed led to him assuming the captaincy and triumphing on the Ashes tour in 1986-87. His career was not without controversy, with the Shakoor Rana altercation and the ‘rebel’ tour to South Africa to the fore. Following his retirement from cricket, he took up coaching, selecting and media work, including being a forthright summariser on Test Match Special, and is now managing director of cricket partnerships with the ECB.
Graham Gooch was the most prolific batsman that top-class cricket has ever seen, with first-class and one-day cricket taken into account. His early cricket with Essex marked him out as a great talent and a man who liked to hit the ball hard. His elevation to the England side might have come too soon at the age of 21 in 1975, and he marked his debut against Australia with a pair. He returned to county cricket to serve a proper apprenticeship, but came back to Test cricket a more rounded player who could dominate the opposition attack – whatever its quality or the conditions. A rotund figure, he was nevertheless a fitness fanatic, allowing him to continue at the highest level for much longer than many of his contemporaries. He became England captain almost by default, but he made a success of the job as he did with most of his cricket activities. When he eventually retired, he took up coaching and broadcasting work, with Essex and Test Match Special, where his sense of humour comes to the fore, and he spent a period as an England selector. He is now batting coach to the England team.
It is hard to imagine anyone else being able to combine the job of national selector for the England team with being one of the funniest men in cricket. Or perhaps a rare sense of humour in one guise helps Geoff Miller when wearing his other hat. He played 34 times for England as an off-spinning all-rounder, although it took time for his batting to fulfil its promise. He took 380 innings to complete his maiden first-class hundred, and that after scoring 98 twice (once not out) in Tests. He played with distinction for both Derbyshire, who he captained, and Essex. When he retired he ran a sports shop in Chesterfield, before his after-dinner speaking career developed rapidly. He was an England selector for eight years before assuming the top job. Questions were asked as to whether he could maintain his entertainment schedule with his duties as selector, but there is not a conflict. For such a funny man he is deadly serious about England and any doubts were quickly eliminated.
A schoolboy prodigy as a quick bowler, Neil Foster went straight from the classroom into the Essex side and promptly took the first three of his 1,200 first-team wickets. Unfortunately, his statistics for injury were as impressive and his England career was blighted by time spent on the operating table rather than in the middle. His fine, upright action made full use of his height allowing him to get bounce and movement off the pitch and classical away swing through the air. He was always liable to take the wickets of good batsmen and is the only bowler to have dismissed both Viv Richards and Javed Miandad in Test cricket for nought. The Richards nought came at the Oval in 1988 when he also accounted for Greenidge, Haynes, Hooper and Logie as the first five wickets fell for 126. The fact that West Indies won the match by eight wickets takes nothing away from his performance. When he retired from cricket he perhaps not surprisingly studied to become a physiotherapist.
Over the years, England’s cricketing success has been built on fast-medium bowlers with immaculate control and accuracy. Angus Fraser was ideal to pick up the mantle of the likes of Alec Bedser and will hopefully not prove to be the last of the line. A big, heavy man, he undertook a fatiguing workload that left him looking exhausted at the end of another long day. To be fair, he looked equally exhausted at the start of the day, but that was just his manner. However, his downbeat demeanour masked a passion and intensity in his bowling that brought him such rich rewards, and not only on seamer-friendly English pitches. He was exceptional in the Caribbean in 1997-98, showing what England missed so badly while he was out of the side injured or unforgivably left out on the whim of the management. He captained Middlesex at the end of his county career, after which he became cricket correspondent of the Independent and a pundit on Test Match Special. He is currently managing director of cricket at Middlesex.
Other personalities who have appeared in In The Box or in its previous guises (Sticky Wicket and Rain Stops Play) include:
the late Bill Frindall
David “Bumble” Lloyd