Jonathan Agnew: My Life In Media

Jonathan Agnew, 45, is the BBC cricket correspondent. Born in Macclesfield, he made his first-class cricket debut for Leicestershire in 1978 and took a wicket with his fourth ball. A fast bowler, "Aggers", as he is universally known, took 666 wickets in his first-class career and played in three Test matches and three one-day internationals for England. He leads coverage of Test Match Special on the Ashes series this summer, broadcast on BBC Radio Five Live's Sports Extra and Radio 4 198 LW.
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It began when John Rawling (now BBC athletics and boxing correspondent) invited me to spend a winter with him at BBC Radio Leicester. I fell in love with radio, and the now defunct Today newspaper then gave me a fabulous opportunity to get to grips with journalism - not merely cricket, but winter sports and surfing among other things.

When you were 15 years old, which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?

Dad has always read The Daily Telegraph which, then, had the most comprehensive cricket coverage of all. That was the only page I read!

And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

I very rarely watch any television at all. I cannot believe that people really sit and devote hours of their lives watching reality TV like Big Brother. Where is the stimulation? Give me a bottle of wine and a conversation every time.

Describe your job

As BBC cricket correspondent, I have two roles: a) to commentate on Test Match Special; and b) my everyday job is to serve all of the BBC's radio outlets with cricket news and analysis. This can range from a light feature about cricket teas on Radio 4's Woman's Hour to presenting live press conferences and news events on Radio Five Live.

What media do you turn to first thing in the morning?

BBC Radio Five Live - for about 20 minutes. If you are lucky, you can get all the news and weather information you need, and if you are really lucky, miss the latest football transfer speculation.

Do you consult any media sources during the working day?

BBC Online for news and cricket coverage. Cricinfo for cricket stats.

What is the best thing about your job?

No two days are ever the same.

And the worst?

I spend too much time away from home. I love travelling, but we can be away for as much as four months during the winter.

How do you feel you influence the media?

I often find my views quoted in the newspapers, not least because some papers still hold the opinion that the BBC cricket correspondent should not be allowed to express a view. Rather than influence the media, I hope that my progress from player to correspondent shows that there is a role for former cricketers in the media, despite the intolerant views of some of my colleagues in the press box.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

Commentating on Steve Waugh's century against England at Sydney in 2003, which he achieved off the last ball of the day. A superb moment of theatre.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

Making rather a pig's ear of an interview with Nelson Mandela. (I was rather nervous!)

What is your Sunday paper? And do you have a favourite magazine?

I take a wide selection of broadsheets and tabloids to keep up to speed with what is going on in the cricketing world. Given a choice of one I would read The Sunday Times.

Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire

To commentate on the moment England regains the Ashes.

If you didn't work in the media what would you do?

I can honestly say that I really have no idea at all. I have been incredibly lucky.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

The West Indian Tony Cozier is the most consumate cricket journalist I know. He is equally, and uniquely, at home commentating on both radio and television, as well as writing for agencies and newspapers.

The cv

1979: As a young cricketer he spends the worst winter of his life working as a lorry driver in Leicester.

1987: Starts working as a sports producer for BBC Radio Leicester.

1988: Writes Eight Days a Week, a well-received book on the life of a county pro cricketer.

1990: Covers the Ashes series for the now defunct Today newspaper. Retires from cricket, although he returns for a swan song in 1992.

1991: Appointed BBC cricket correspondent.

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