Former Leicestershire and England fast bowler who took 666 first class wickets. He retired from the game in 1990 to become a cricket correspondent for a national newspaper and is now the presenter and lead commentator on BBC Radio’s “Test Match Special” programme.
Capable of bowling quickly in suitable conditions, Agnew made his first-class debut for Leicestershire in 1978 after impressing in local club cricket. He took 101 wickets in the 1987 season for his county. His best first-class bowling figures were 9 for 70 and he took six ten-wickets hauls in 218 matches.
He was selected as one of five Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1988 as reward for a fine season for Leicestershire, although by this stage his England career had ended after disappointing in the three Test matches and three One Day Internationals he’d played in the mid 1980s.
His last Test was only 12 months after his first and his last one-day international was only one month after his first. He can perhaps be considered somewhat unlucky to make his debut during the summer of 1984 where the England cricket team was at one of its lowest ebbs – having just been “blackwashed” 5-0 by the West Indies.
With his height and pace, he had the attributes of a fine fast bowler, but his book 8 days a week was testament to the huge workload faced by county fast bowlers during the 1980s. It’s almost certainly the workload placed on him by county cricket that limited his international appearances and ended his career very early – he retired at the age of 30.
Agnew began to gain experience as a journalist while still playing cricket, taking off season employment with BBC Radio Leicester as a sports producer.
After retiring at a relatively young age at the end of the 1990 season, he had a stint as cricket correspondent of Today, a short-lived national newspaper, before being appointed the BBC’s cricket correspondent in 1991, though in 1992 he answered an emergency call to an injury-strapped Leicestershire and played in the Natwest Trophy semi-final, taking a creditable 1-31 off 12 overs.
As a commentator Agnew is regarded as a cheerful and easy-going character. Agnew rose to fame as a commentator on BBC on Test Match Special. He joined TMS in 1990 and quickly became a respected figure in the field of cricket commentary, despite a very short international career. Agnew was initially a junior member of the TMS team, learning at close quarters from legends such as Brian Johnston, Henry Blofeld and Bill Frindall.
However, following Johnston’s death in 1994, Agnew became the BBC’s Cricket Correspondent and, in effect, the voice of English cricket. As the lead-commentator on TMS, Agnew has augmented the programme’s reputation for warmth, humanity and, above all, informality that belies the professionalism of all involved. In 2006, Agnew began to develop a strong broadcasting relationship with Geoffrey Boycott.
Their contrasting styles, jocular interplay and apparent respect for one another’s abilities as a broadcaster led to some, most notably Wisden to describe the pair as the “Lennon and McCartney of cricket broadcasting”.