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Henry Blofeld interview: ‘Shane Warne taught me to drink Jägerbombs’

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Cricket commentating legend Henry “Blowers” Blofeld will be back behind the microphone this month as he returns to Fenner’s, the home of Cambridge University Cricket Club, for a charity match.

The captains toss the coin under the watchful eye of Henry Blofeld and Majid Khan at Fenner’s ahead of a charity cricket match in 2018. Picture: Richard Marsham
The captains toss the coin under the watchful eye of Henry Blofeld and Majid Khan at Fenner’s ahead of a charity cricket match in 2018. Picture: Richard Marsham

Having retired in 2017, after more than 50 years as a charismatic and much-loved broadcaster – most notably on BBC Radio’s Test Match Special – Blowers the cricketer also turned out for the University of Cambridge, earning his blue in the 1959 Varsity match against Oxford.

On Friday, July 15, he will once again be sharing his pearls of wisdom as he commentates on a fundraising match in aid of the Royal Anglian Regiment Benevolent charity between a Barmy Army XI and the Royal Anglian Regiment.

Speaking to the Cambridge Independent from Milton Keynes, where he was on tour with his one-man show, My Dear Old Things – An Evening with Henry Blofeld, Blowers admits that he misses his former employment.

“Oh yes, I do obviously, I miss it very much,” he says, “but my eyes weren’t good enough and they were getting worse and worse so the time had to come. If you can’t see enough, you can’t commentate – so while I was sad, it was inevitable, I’m afraid. I was 78 so I can’t really complain.”

Blowers, who scored a first-class 100 at Lord’s in 1959, still follows the cricket, however. “Well, yes, obviously one does... I don’t go to it very much but one looks at the papers, absolutely, and listen to it when I get the chance. Cricket has been my life for 60 years.”

He calls the recent test matches against New Zealand “terrific” and “fantastic”, adding that “the way England have turned round under [coach Brendon] McCullum and [captain Ben] Stokes is really very good indeed”, adding: “I think the momentum is with England now and it’s remarkable.

“You get a new captain and a new manager and somehow they instil a different spirit into it all and it’s really interesting how it’s happened.”

[Read more: Retired cricket commentator Henry Blofeld will be back behind the microphone at Fenner's this Sunday]

A popular figure with fans and players alike, Blowers paid tribute to the late Australian spinner-turned-broadcaster Shane Warne, who died of a heart attack in March at 52. “Warney and I were quite good friends – he taught me to drink Jägerbombs!” he laughs. “He was a great lad, lived in the fast lane, died in the fast lane.

“But what a mark he left on the game and what an amazing man – and probably should have captained Australia, but his lifestyle I think was a bit of a risk for the Australian authorities.”

On his upcoming return to Cambridge, Blowers says: “It’s always lovely to go back there [to Fenner’s]. It’s just a pity you no longer get first class cricket there.”

The very entertaining commentator has “wonderful memories” of his time playing for Cambridge, noting: “Ted Dexter was my first captain, and what a wonderful player he was; of course he died not long ago...

“Terrific memories and we’ll have a great day’s cricket there and I do hope everyone in Cambridge who enjoys it will come along and support the regiment, the Barmy Army too, and make a really good day of it because it’s a wonderful ground for picnics and for everything else.”

The Royal Anglian Regiment Benevolent charity is supported by Catherine Jones of Cambridge. Owner Vanessa Burkitt’s father, Dr Philip Jones, and his brother, Dr Michael Jones, both served as medical officers in the regiment.

“That’s why we support the regiment’s charity, to acknowledge their service and, in some small way, to support those who may need help after they leave the Army,” says Vanessa, who notes that while not currently at war, soldiers of the Royal Anglian Regiment are at present deployed in Mali, Somalia and elsewhere.

The match is a reprise of the 2018 Centenary event, a 20:20 when a Royal Anglian Regiment fielded an XI. This time the opposition are a scratch team from the Barmy Army XI. Henry Blofeld will be orchestrating events, and there is a rumour that former England bowler Ryan Sidebottom may turn out for the Barmies. Chris Mann from BBC Radio Cambridgeshire will be the MC for the occasion.

For more information, and to book tickets, visit bit.ly/3yiyAwQ.

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