Howzat? Very funny, despite late arrivals

REVIEW: In the Box, Alnwick Playhouse, Friday, August 30.

If you ever wondered how Derek Randall wound up Dennis Lillee and Rodney Marsh or what Mike Gatting was thinking when he was bowled by that ball from Shane Warne, then this is the show for you.

Having said that, even those with only a passing interest in the game or perhaps none at all would be entertained by the anecdotes related by the experienced raconteurs who appear.

In the Box came to Alnwick on Friday night as a warm-up act for the T20 international between England and Australia at Durham the following day.

The show, which now has more than 100 terrific shows under its belt, features Test Match Special commentators and cricketing legends as they recall their favourite stories.

During the first half of the show, broadcaster Ralph Dellor and three guests talk through career highlights, share anecdotes and entertain the audience with classic clips and their own insight.

Or that’s the theory. The three guests at Alnwick were due to be Mike Gatting, Geoff Miller and Jonathan Agnew and the first disappointment was that Aggers was unable to attend, as had been rumoured.

He was replaced by New Zealander Jeremy Coney, but by the start of the night at 7.30pm, he and Gatting, who was giving him a lift, were at various points on the M1 and the A1(M).

This left the first half entirely in the hands of Geoff Miller, who as well as being national selector for England these days, is a very popular speaker on the after-dinner circuit.

And I can see why. He had the audience in stitches from start to finish with a good mix of tales about his own career and the characters and players with whom he has shared his time in the sport.

Extra credit must be given for taking on the responsibility for the no-show from his colleagues, but I don’t think anyone regretted him having more than his allotted time.

The second half of the show is devoted to a question-and-answer session with the audience submitting their questions.

By this time, the other two had arrived and Coney was another who was a good storyteller with an eye for the funny detail or line.

Gatting, however, perhaps due to his late arrival and long journey, was not up to the level of the others on the night.