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At Hunstanton BBC Test Match Special's Jonathan Agnew praises Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes, England cricket coach and captain

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REVIEW: An Evening With Aggers, Princess Theatre, Hunstanton

BBC Test Match Special presenter Jonathan Agnew praised new England cricket coach and captain Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes at Hunstanton last night.

The popular correspondent reminded the audience that the Princess Theatre was the very first venue of his solo tour nearly four years ago.

He opened up by telling of his relief after Covid of being able to get out and about, especially with cricket being affected by the pandemic, with Tests and internationals being played in empty stadiums.

Jon Agnew at Lord's Cricket Ground.
Jon Agnew at Lord's Cricket Ground.

Now the sport is making up for it with a vengeance during a busy period and his next assignment will be Tuesday's Commonwealth Games, an England v South Africa T20.

Following a desperate West Indies spring tour defeat he was pessimistic about England but hailed McCullum and Stokes for reinvigorating the national side's fortunes and outlook, by beating reigning world Test champions New Zealand 3-0 and India in a one-off match.

Agnew also feels the captaincy will be the making of talisman Stokes who will become an even better all-rounder.

The second half of the returning show was a 'Greatest Hits' and those familiar with Agnew's career or have been to one of these sorts of events will recognise the Brian Johnston classic 'legover' incident; Geoff Boycott meeting rock icon Alice Cooper; tales of stitch-ups among fellow commentators Boycott, Johnston, Fred Trueman, Phil Tufnell and Michael Vaughan; and his Olympic equestrian and archery broadcasts.

Agnew warmly referred to Boycott as a 'tosser' and revealed a softer side to the blunt Yorkshireman.

Early memories and influences will be new to the crowd. Former Leicestershire fast bowler Agnew's first hero was Lancashire paceman Peter Lever and first guru was the astute Ray Illingworth, also the gangly 18-year-old's first skipper during the late 1970s.

A teenaged Agnew achieved newspaper notoriety when on a Whitbread scholarship to Australia by gashing touring England captain Mike Brearley's eyebrow with an accidentally-rising ball in a dodgy rain-affected net.

He admits he wasn't good enough to have a prolonged England career – 'Aggers' made a handful of 1980s international appearances – and went into broadcasting to develop another line of work.

Most revealing was his analysis of those who could play sport at the top level, for example a county encounter between his Leicestershire (and England) skipper David Gower and West Indies pace legend Malcolm Marshall, playing for Hampshire.

Agnew has a warm, cosy style which suits an intimate theatre like the Princess and seemed genuinely pleased to come back to "The Queen down the road".

Peter Woodhouse

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