This retiring is a hectic business. When I said in June that it was going to be my last year with Test Match Special, it never occurred to me that I would have to do much more than float quietly into the sunset. Yet I suddenly became a much greater object of interest than I had managed to be in my previous 46 years behind the microphone. In no time at all, I found myself sitting on Andrew Marr’s sofa, before shifting to Piers Morgan’s boudoir for Good Morning Britain. And on it went. I flitted from studio to studio and on the journeys in between I was bombarded with calls from local radio stations as far apart as Radio Cornwall and Radio Norfolk.
On one such journey, a remarkable coincidence occurred. The evening before, my wife Valeria and I had talked for a long time about TMS and all the adventures I have had. I remarked that one sadness was never establishing any contact with Howard Marshall, who pioneered cricket commentary before the war. In a wonderful voice, his commentary on Len Hutton making 364 at the Oval against Australia in 1938 was highly recognisable as the start of what we do in the commentary box today. Marshall himself was dead and I never made contact even with someone who knew him. My agent Ralph Brünjes and I were snarled up in traffic on the Embankment by Chelsea Old Church when he received a message from his office. Apparently a lady who was a relation of Marshall’s wanted to speak to me. We arranged to meet. She said that when Marshall died she had inherited a number of his things, including a picture he had painted of the tavern side of Lord’s from the top deck of the pavilion. She wanted to give it to me.
She and her husband brought it round to our house.