BBC2 Test highlights: First impressions

Posted by

Tonight was the first episode of the BBC’s new Test highlights show. It’s called Today at the Test, which is a great name (although given today’s rain and its 45-minute running time, this first one should probably have been called Today at the Test Plus Quite a Bit of Other Stuff.)

It’s early days, but it’s immediately obvious that they’ve got some simple yet important things correct.

  1. If you missed the 7pm start time, you could bring it up on the iPlayer and click ‘watch from start’
  2. It was available on the iPlayer thereafter
  3. They’re using Soul Limbo for the theme tune

That last one is particularly important. They could have used something completely new or they could have used an updated ‘trendy’ version of the same song, which is a very bad thing that TV people sometimes see fit to do.

Fortunately, they didn’t do either of these things. They recognised that they’d always had the perfect opening and they didn’t piss about with it.

Isa Guha is the host. Isa Guha is solid. Probably a better commentator than presenter at the minute, but that’ll change in no time.

Alastair Cook and Carlos Brathwaite joined her for the pre-match chat and the three of them didn’t exactly run it fine with the social distancing.

Cook spoke borderline eloquently. Turns out he is only the worst public speaker in history when he’s captaining England.

Alison Mitchell, Michael Vaughan and Phil Tufnell supplemented those three on commentary. Mitchell is great and Vaughan is fine when he’s only really taking about live cricket. Tuffers was relaxed and amiable.

Vaughan came back at the end to talk through the day.

This is Michael Vaughan’s hair at the minute.

Michael Vaughan is 45 years old.

With just a few overs of play in an empty ground, this wasn’t exactly a dynamite day to cover, but all in all we found Today at the Test professional and inoffensive. It’s pretty much exactly how you’d expect it to be really.

We can’t wait to find out which specific elements are going to drive us absolutely mental once we’re a few Test matches deep.

12 comments

  1. Interesting to see how they coped with a day where they pretty much could have shown every ball, but didn’t.

    Hopefully once there is more cricket to pack in, a greater proportion of the programme will be cricket rather than interviews – I know it’s inevitable, but I don’t really need a player to be asked whether it’s important that they make a good start tomorrow, and so on.

    1. But how else will we know whether they are hoping to take the positives and put the opposition under pressure?

  2. Vaughan’s analysis was pretty good and I agree with what your saying.
    I actually think the fake crowd noise makes it worse.
    They may as well do it decently or not at all.

    1. Agreed. How difficult would it be to have someone press a “cheer” or “ooooh” button at the relevant moment.

      1. Very.
        Imagine being poised over those buttons for hours on end, concentrating intently, just waiting to deploy them. Imagine pushing one slightly too late and how terrible that would sound. Imagine pushing one unnecessarily. Imagine pushing the wrong one.

    2. Or a few Barmy Army songs would improve it immensely.
      When Root comes back it would be awesome to hear the ‘Roooooooooot’.

      1. Ooh, they could have something for every player! Maybe a bit of music as well? How about some music for each boundary and wicket too? And once you’ve gone to all that trouble, might as well get the composer(s) to compose something new for the show – perhaps comparing cricketers and, ooh I dunno, revolutionaries…

  3. All this praise for Stokes at Headlingley last year has clearly made him think people demand a first-innings collapse in every match, and impart that to his team as captain….

  4. Soul Limbo certainly makes me feel at home viz cricket on BBC TV. It was fairly new when I started following cricket on TV in the early 1970s.

    Booker T & The MGs recorded some great tracks, of which Soul Limbo is but one.

    Not least, Green Onions:

    https://youtu.be/gjgjoSsOvi4

    1. Green Onions – so named of course, because onions have the funkiest smell.

      Of course, the MGs did a lot of their best work as the house band at Stax (the equivalent of the Funk Brothers over at Motown) – ‘Soul Man’ for Sam & Dave, ‘Try a Little Tenderness’ for the great Otis Redding, and, as they say, Many More.

      None of those, great as they are, have ever had quite the same emotional pull, or the same ease of replication with a teaspoon in the office kitchen (remember office kitchens?) as the first few seconds of Soul Limbo….

Comments are closed.