Henry Blofeld

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Henry Blofeld
Personal information
Full name Henry Calthorpe Blofeld
Born (1939-09-23) 23 September 1939 (age 75)
Hoveton Home Farm, Norfolk, England
Nickname Blowers, Tycoon, Typhoon
Batting style Right-handed
Role Wicket-keeper, commentator
Domestic team information
Years Team
1958–59 Cambridge University
1956–65 Norfolk
First-class debut 7 May 1958 Cambridge University v Kent
Last First-class 11 June 1960 Free Foresters v Cambridge University
Only List A 1 May 1965 Norfolk v Hampshire
Career statistics
Competition First-class List A
Matches 17 1
Runs scored 758 60
Batting average 24.45 60.00
100s/50s 1/2 –/1
Top score 138 60
Balls bowled 18
Wickets
Bowling average
5 wickets in innings
10 wickets in match
Best bowling
Catches/stumpings 11/– –/–
Source: CricketArchive, 14 May 2008

Henry Calthorpe Blofeld, OBE (born 23 September 1939; nicknamed Blowers by Brian Johnston) is an English sports journalist, best known as a cricket commentator for Test Match Special on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra. He has established a reputation as a commentator with an accent, vocabulary and syntax that is quintessentially Old Etonian both in style and substance. He also writes on cricket.

Early life[edit]

Blofeld's family were landowners in Norfolk and he was the youngest of three siblings. His older brother, Sir John Blofeld, became a High Court judge.[1] Henry's father (Thomas Robert Calthorpe Blofeld, 1903–1986) was at Eton with Ian Fleming and his name is believed to have been the inspiration for the name of James Bond supervillain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.[2][3] Blofeld's uncle was the Honourable Freddie Calthorpe, a former England Test captain.[4]

School cricket[edit]

Blofeld was educated at Sunningdale School and Eton College and played cricket at both. He was wicket-keeper for Eton College first XI[5] and had an exceptional career as a schoolboy cricketer.[4] In 1956, Blofeld scored 104 not out for a Public Schools team against the Combined Services,[6] and he was given the Cricket Society's award for the most promising young player of the season.[7] Appointed Eton captain in his final year at school, Blofeld suffered a very serious accident, when he was hit by a bus while riding a bicycle,[5] remaining unconscious for 28 days.[8]

First class cricket[edit]

Although his injuries curtailed his subsequent cricketing career,[5]Blofeld did go on to play 16 first-class matches for Cambridge University during 1958 and 1959.[4] The 1958 side was skippered by future England captain Ted Dexter and his first victim behind the stumps, on his debut for Cambridge against Kent, was also another future England captain, Colin Cowdrey, whom he caught off Dexter's bowling. He was unable to obtain a regular place in the side as a wicket keeper and only played in that position when first choice Chris Howland was unavailable. Of the 16 games that Blofeld played for Cambridge (5 in 1958 and 11 in 1959), he only kept wicket in four of them.

In 1959, Blofeld played in half of the University fixtures, including the Varsity Match against Oxford,[9] where he won his Blue "as an opening batsman of sorts... the worst Blue awarded since the war" according to Blofeld himself.[5] Fittingly, he made his only first-class century against the MCC at Lords in July 1959, in his penultimate game for Cambridge. He attended King's College, Cambridge but left after two years without receiving a degree.

In his only match for Free Foresters, against Cambridge University in 1960, Blofeld kept wicket and, ironically, his very last first-class victim was his nemesis, Chris Howland, who was also Cambridge skipper that year. He played one Gillette Cup match for a minor county, Norfolk against Hampshire in 1965 under the captaincy of Bill Edrich, who was 49 years old at the time. Playing as an opening batsman, Blofeld top scored for his side with 60.[10]

Sports journalism[edit]

Blofeld took a job at the merchant bank Robert Benson Lonsdale,[11] but it was not to his taste and he drifted into sports journalism. He reported on the England tour to India in 1963/4 for The Guardian, and was close to being picked as an emergency batsman to replace the ill Micky Stewart for the 2nd Test in Bombay. When he was told by David Clark, the tour manager, that he might have to play, Blofeld replied "I would certainly play if needed, but if I scored 50 or upwards in either innings I was damned if I would stand down for the Calcutta Test".[5] On the day of the Test Stewart discharged himself from hospital and played despite his illness. After tea on the first day , Stewart was rushed back to hospital and played no further part in the tour.[5] Blofeld continued as a print journalist until 1972 when he joined the Test Match Special team. He had also previously commentated for ITV in the 1960s.

Test Match Special[edit]

Blofeld has been a regular commentator for TMS, except for a period at BSkyB from 1991 to 1994. Blofeld's cricket commentary is characterised by his plummy voice and his idiosyncratic mention of superfluous details regarding the scene, including things like construction cranes or numbers of pink shirts in the crowd; as well as pigeons, buses, aeroplanes and helicopters that happen to be passing by.[12] After the tea and lunch breaks he is also known to talk for extended periods of time about the food on offer, in particular cakes, with occasional interruptions to describe the situation on the field. He also uses the phrase "my dear old thing".

Henry Blofeld is God.
A banner proclaiming Henry Blofeld is God, Headingley, Leeds, 8 August 1996

Since 2006 he has commentated less frequently, missing the 2007 World Cup despite having covered the opening ceremonies of the two preceding World Cups in 2003 and 1999 for TMS. Speaking to Michael Parkinson about this on BBC Radio 2 on 26 August 2007, he responded to the question of why he was commentating less these days, by remarking that "they obviously want to bring in new faces" adding that during the Ashes series during 2006/7 "I felt in a funny way that I wasn't part of it any more". However, during the summer 2008 season, he resumed a full commentating quota on Tests and ODIs with undiminished enthusiasm.

Blofeld missed the 2009 home test series against South Africa but returned for the 2010 home series against Pakistan. He did not cover the Ashes series in Australia during 2010–11 but returned for the Indian tour of England in Summer 2011. In January 2012, he rejoined the TMS team covering England's tour of the United Arab Emirates against Pakistan and also the autumn 2012 England tour of India.[citation needed]

Outside sport[edit]

Blofeld was awarded an OBE for services to broadcasting in 2003. The following year, he appeared alongside Fred Trueman in the "Tertiary Phase" of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio series playing himself. Blofeld has written a partly autobiographical book entitled My Dear Old Thing: Talking Cricket. He undertakes an "Evening With Blowers" theatrical show which has toured all over the UK, as well as many other public speaking engagements.[citation needed]. His fourth book is Squeezing the Orange.[13]

In November 2003, Blofeld was the castaway on Desert Island Discs with his favourite selection being the classic Brian Johnston and Jonathan Agnew TMS exchange "Getting your leg over".[14]

Outside cricket, Blofeld's favourite hobby is "drinking wine", followed by "eating food" and "going out." He has his own Côtes du Rhône label which he markets as Blowers' Rhône and unashamedly promotes this during his one man theatrical chat shows An Evening With Blowers, that he mainly performs during the cricket close season.[citation needed]

Blofeld celebrated his 70th birthday by hosting an evening show in front of 2000 paying "guests" at the Royal Albert Hall, with appearances on stage by old friends like TMS commentator Jonathan Agnew, who narrated the event live, West Indian commentator Tony Cozier, TV personality Stephen Fry, cricket journalist John Woodcock, TV celebrity Christine Hamilton and his elder brother, former High Court Judge Sir John Blofeld.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Blofeld has been married three times and divorced twice. He has a daughter, Suki (born 1964), with his first wife. He separated from his Swedish second wife, Bitten, in 2007. He had a double heart bypass operation in 1999 after being diagnosed with angina and was given the last rites after he nearly died in intensive care following the operation. Blofeld lives in Chelsea.[citation needed]. In a Boxing Day 2013 interview on the Radio New Zealand Summer Noelle programme, Blofeld said he has recently married an Italian woman.[15]

Blofeld published an autobiography, Squeezing the Orange, in 2013. The book recounts his personal and professional life, including encounters with various celebrities and politicians, and a forty-six day long road trip from London to Bombay in a vintage Rolls-Royce.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/birthdays-1532461.html
  2. ^ Ben Macintyre (5 April 2008). "Was Ian Fleming the real 007?". London: The Times. Retrieved 8 April 2008. (subscription required)
  3. ^ "Why cricket's Henry Blofeld believes in 'squeezing the orange' to the very last drop". The World (radio program). Retrieved 21 February 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c "Henry Blofeld (Cricinfo profile)". ESPNCricinfo. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Williamson, Martin (15 December 2012). "Desperate times... send for Blowers". ESPNCricinfo. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  6. ^ Blofeld (2001), pp.37–39
  7. ^ Most Promising Young Cricketer Of The Year award winners
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^ Wisden 1966, p. 644.
  11. ^ Blofeld (2001), p.50
  12. ^ Martin Williamson (17 May 2007). "Good morning and welcome". Cricinfo.com.  Retrieved on 1 November 2008.
  13. ^ publisher: Blue Door (September 26, 2013)
  14. ^ [3]
  15. ^ [4]
  16. ^ <http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-02-21/why-crickets-henry-blofeld-believes-squeezing-orange-very-last-drop>

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]