Jonathan Agnew to step down as BBC cricket correspondent after 33 years

Jonathan Agnew commentating for the BBC
Jonathan Agnew took over from Christopher Martin-Jenkins in 1991 - PA/Mike Egerton

Jonathan Agnew will step down as the BBC’s cricket correspondent at the end of the summer, but will remain on Test Match Special for the next four years.

“Aggers”, who turns 64 this week, has been the BBC’s cricket correspondent for 33 years, having taken over from Christopher Martin-Jenkins in 1991, following his retirement from a 218-match first-class career with Leicestershire a year earlier.

Agnew is a beloved member of the TMS team, but has “decided to step back from his role as BBC cricket correspondent at the end of the summer”. Exactly what the change of job title means in practical terms is still unclear, but it is likely Agnew will steer clear of covering Twenty20 cricket and cease to be the premier voice of the BBC’s wider cricketing output, even though he will “host TMS” and “continue to be a regular voice across BBC programmes”.

“I am really delighted that I shall continue to present Test Match Special for the next four years,” Agnew said. “It is a unique programme of which I am immensely proud, and means so much to so many people. However, this does seem the right time for me to step back from my role as BBC cricket correspondent. This summer, my 34th in the post, will be my last. In a quickly changing cricket landscape it is time for fresh legs to cover the daily duties, leaving me to focus entirely on TMS.”

The news comes at a time of flux for the BBC’s cricket coverage. While the BBC holds exclusive radio broadcast rights for all international and domestic cricket in England and Wales until the end of 2028, its deal to show the Hundred and selected international cricket (a handful of live T20s and highlights of every day’s play) is up for renewal at the end of this summer. It is likely to face competition from other free-to-air broadcasters, but is considered favourite to retain the rights.

Talksport has made major dents in the market for overseas men’s international rights in recent years, including securing a long-term deal for England’s matches in India, starting with this year’s Test tour (it covered only the first two matches on the ground before largely moving operations to London). The BBC holds the rights for the next men’s and women’s Ashes, but deals to broadcast International Cricket Council events and England tours of Pakistan have expired. The rights for the next ICC cycle begin with the T20 World Cup in June, and the BBC will likely face another battle with Talksport for the rights to England’s Test tour of Pakistan in October.

Adam Mountford, the TMS producer, has been promoted for the next six months to the role of head of cricket. This role was vacated last summer by Stephen Lyle, who became head of football and is thought to be in the running to replace the outgoing Barbara Slater as head of sport. Mountford will now oversee the BBC’s cricket output – including deciding how to replace Agnew as correspondent – but looks set to continue to produce TMS’s day-to-day coverage wherever possible, too. A decision over how to divide the various jobs will wait until it is clear exactly what rights the BBC holds, especially with regard to cricket on television.

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