The Test Match Special commentator on Radio 4, greeted me with that voice everybody who listens to the Cricket would know immediately. His career with the bat, lasted only 17 matches, but during that time, he scored 758 runs, with a top score of 138, playing for Cambridge University between 1958-59. After being injured by being knocked off his bike by a bus and spending 28 days unconscious, he took a job with merchant bank Robert Benson Lonsdale, where he spent 3 years before drifting into sports journalism. He held this role until 1972, when he joined the Test Match Special team.
Peter still commentates now (2016) during the summer doing a few Test Matches and one-day Internationals but he is also pursuing his other passion which is theatre. His theatre career started in 2001 when he did some one-man shows and then later teamed up with John Bly. After that he paired up with Peter (Backers) Baxter and together they have done over 200 shows recounting the many hilarious cricketing anecdotes they have gathered over the years. They started their ‘Rogues On The Road’ tour in 2015, launching it at the Edinburgh Festival.
‘The Rogues’ have now been touring for three and a half years and have no plans to retire, even though Henry reaches 77 soon. The shows have been so successful, that generally they are sell outs. Questions are taken from the audience, which can lead to some of the hilarious anecdotes and some embarrassing situations. Henry chuckles as he tells me about three such occasions which stick in his mind. The first being at a party in a hotel in Nottingham. Henry had been indulging in some of his favourite hobbies, drinking wine and eating food, and on this occasion he found himself somehow locked out of his room, completely naked at 12.30 am! On another occasion, he agreed to meet a blonde-haired woman, but a dark-haired one turned up instead! And then there was the night when a certain Mr Botham tried to lay fists on him!
He has appeared on television several times, with Pointless and Room 101 being some recent shows. Two of his dislikes that made it to Room 101 were the scarcity of English mustard and people that say ‘Have a good day, Sir’
He was awarded the OBE in 2003 for his services to broadcasting and has gone on to write 16 books about cricket, himself and a few other subjects. His autobiography ‘Squeezing The Orange’ was released in 2013. This recounts his personal and professional life, including encounters with celebrities and politicians whilst on a 46 day road trip between London and Bombay driving a vintage Rolls Royce.
Whether cricket is your thing or not, the way Henry tells a story, just makes you want to hear more and more of his anecdotes.
The ‘Rogues On The Road’ tour reaches The Mill Theatre, Banbury on Wednesday 9th November and the first ball is bowled at 7.30 pm.
Our conversation ends and I’m careful not to finish with ‘Have a good day, Sir!’
Henry finishes in the usual way, ‘Thanks for calling Old Bean, it’s been a pleasure to talk to you!’
Written by Nigel Lumsdale, Your Letterbox