To think I once thought cricket dull. For more than 40 days and 40 nights, I have been gripped by the Ashes. I still couldn’t tell you where short third man ends and deep backward point begins, but I have fallen in love with the rollercoaster ride that Ben Stokes and his team have taken us on. So much so that I covertly watched every ball of the final hour of the final day while on a family outing to Come and Sing: Abba. I could stand the tension no longer when the ninth wicket fell so made my excuses and left to watch the final act outside with a beer in hand. After Stuart Broad secured a victory he and I will never forget, I returned to my seat in the grand concert hall at Snape Maltings and sang ‘The Winner Takes It All’ with added gusto.
Those who’ve followed every wicket on Test Match Special know there is nothing like live radio. Last week produced another reminder of the ear-twitching drama, the glorious unpredictability, the spine-tingling jeopardy which only it can produce. Andrew Malkinson, who spent 17 years in jail for a rape he didn’t commit, joined us in the Today studio on the morning after the Appeal Court’s decision to overturn his conviction. Justin Webb and I had told the audience that Andrew would be with us for the 8.10 a.m. slot normally reserved for political leaders and policymakers. At just before ten to eight my editor – and the unseen chief pilot of the programme – Owenna Griffiths told me in my headphones: ‘There’s no sign of him. The taxi’s waiting outside. His lawyer’s downstairs but he is nowhere to be seen.’ During Thought for the Day we agreed to drop the next item and to chat with our Moscow editor instead.