Henry Blofeld led the commentary on Test Match Special for five decades, before retiring four years ago. He was inspired to delve into past triumphs and near-misses of historic matches when re-reading Newbolt’s 1892 poem Vitai Lampada, about a cricketing schoolboy’s commitment to duty, both on the pitch and in the field of battle.
Ten to make and the match to win—
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
Blofeld brings to life 30 Test Match cliff-hangers, ranging from the match-winning bowling of Australia’s F. R. Spofforth against W.G. Grace’s England in 1882, via the first tied Test between Benaud's Australia and Worrell’s West Indies in 1960, to the never-say-die batting of Ben Stokes in 2019. He revisits less celebrated matches such as South Africa's hard-fought first Test win in 1906, a crucial innings from Denis Compton in 1948, and a match-saving performance by a young Alan Knott in Guyana in 1968.
He talks to cricket writer Peter Hayter who has ghost-written books with Ian Botham, Phil Tufnell and Marcus Trescothick.