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End of an era: Henry Blofeld retires from cricket commentary

Henry Blofeld, revered cricket commentator, bowed out amid a standing ovation from everyone present at Lord’s during the final day’s play of the third Test between England and West Indies.

cricket Updated: Sep 11, 2017 20:03 IST
Devarchit Varma
Henry Blofeld gestures to fans after his final time commentating during the England vs West Indies third Test at Lord’s.
Henry Blofeld gestures to fans after his final time commentating during the England vs West Indies third Test at Lord’s.(Action Images via Reuters)

It was an end of an era when Henry Blofeld rose from the commentary box seat for one last time, at Lord’s during the final day’s play of the third Test between England and West Indies.

Almost everyone present at the ‘home of cricket’ rose in unison to give the 77-year-old a standing ovation to mark an end to what has been a radio association that began in 1972.

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Blofeld, fondly called ‘Blowers’, was after all one of the most loved radio commentators who entertained his listeners with ‘tales of buses, pigeons, cakes’ and a little bit of cricket, according to The Telegraph.

A serious road accident had left Blofeld in coma for 28 days, and caused severe damage for him to have a career as a cricketer. Undeterred, Blofeld chose to commentate on the sport amid many other things that he liked. But before all that, he made a First-Class century at Lord’s.

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“I did my first broadcast for the BBC in May 1972, and then in August I was joining people like Freddie Brown, Norman Yardley, John Arlott, Brian Johnston, Jim Swanton in a match here at Lord’s. I’d defy anyone not to be rather nervous in that situation,” said Blofeld in a TV interview with Sky Sports during the Lord’s Test last week, ahead of his final stint as cricket commentator.

BBC radio commentator Henry Blofeld waves to the crowd ahead of play on the third day of the third international Test match between England and West Indies at Lord's cricket ground in London on September 9, 2017. (AFP)

“I’m 78 next week — or is it the week after, something like that — I don’t quite see as well. Perhaps it’s better to go when people are prepared to clap you rather than ‘why didn’t you go 10 years ago?’ It’s been terrific, I have loved my life,” he expressed.

Blofeld will now move on to the ‘live stage act’ from cricket commentary, but his legend will always remain in the annals of cricket.

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“He lifted the game from a state of conventional excitement to one of unbelievable suspense and drama and finally into the realms of romantic fiction,” he said on-air on one of the greatest all-rounders ever seen, in Ian Botham. This excerpt was published from The Test Match Special Book Of Cricket Quotes by Dan Waddell.

“There’s stress in all of life, isn’t there? I feel sorry for (Jonathan) Trott, but there are questions. He had a bad summer against Australia. Then two low scores in the first Test. The next we know, he’s on the way home. These days there is every sort of coach. It does seem extraordinary that with so many helpers of every sort, they didn’t see this coming. Is it a question of not being able to cope with failure? Do people give in a bit too early? I hate to say it, but this didn’t happen in the old days,” he famously said these lines on the former England batsman, who returned home midway through the Ashes 2013-14 in Australia after being battered by the home team’s fast bowlers.

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He had a peculiar take on cricket administrators, as Blofeld once said according to The Telegraph, “Those who run cricket in this country, especially at the domestic level, are for the most part a self-serving, pusillanimous and self-important bunch of myopic dinosaurs unable to take anything but the shortest-term view of everything.”