Blowers' best bits: Henry Blofeld to retire from Test Match Special
The veteran broadcaster sometimes divided opinion, but his voice is unmistakable and his style made him a favourite
Veteran Test Match Special cricket commentator Henry Blofeld is to retire this summer after almost 50 years on the BBC.
Announcing his decision, the 77-year-old presenter said: "I have decided the time has come for the last of the old farts to hang up his microphone."
Blofeld's last match for the broadcaster will be England's Test against the West Indies starting on 7 September.
Famed for his posh accent and observations about goings-on away from the cricket - passing buses and birds were particular favourites - "Blowers", as he was known, developed a rambling, avuncular style of commentary.
Sometimes events on the field eluded him and macular degeneration made his task even harder in recent years, but he often made up for it with a well-observed metaphor.
"He was like a PG Wodehouse character. Everything in Blowers' world was ‘marvellous', and ‘splendid'," says Tom Cary of the Daily Telegraph.
"Some couldn't stand the plumminess, regarding him as a pastiche of himself; the Old Etonian, cricket-loving, bow tie-wearing buffoon… But whether you liked him or loathed him, one suspects we will all eventually pine for the days when the BBC employed such characters."
Not only is Blofeld one of the few remaining commentators from the era of Murray Walker, Bill McLaren and Harry Carpenter, says Cary, he was also part of the "rich lineage of 'journalist-enthusiasts' at TMS".
Unlike most commentators now, Blofeld was not a former professional, although he did play for Cambridge University in the 1950s.
Yet his voice became synonymous with TMS. Jonathan Agnew of the BBC describes him as "one of those characters that really set up Test Match Special.
"It's the legacy of people like him who really developed this programme. People have tried to copy it ever since."
Blowers' best bits:
"It ballooned into the air and Bell dived forward like a porpoise after a fish and came up with the winner."
"Oh look - I've just seen a crane at Lord's actually moving, doing some work. I've seen cranes all around this ground for years and they've always been still. That big white one there is moving. A moving crane, a yellow helicopter - what more has the day got to offer?"
"It's a catch he would have caught 99 times times out of 1,000."
"If the tension here was a block of Cheddar cheese, you could cut it with a knife."
"Flintoff starts in, his shadow beside him. Where else would it be?"
"Ashley Giles trundles in to bowl rather like a wheelie bin."
"My dear old thing."