Experimental feature

Listen to this article

Experimental feature

Jonathan “Aggers” Agnew, 53, played 218 matches for Leicestershire and three Tests for England. He has been the BBC’s cricket correspondent and a member of the Test Match Special team since 1991.

What was your earliest ambition?

I always wanted to be a professional cricketer, which meant I didn’t work as much as I should have done at exams. But, happily, it came off.

Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

Uppingham, a public boarding school, from the age of eight. I was a professional cricketer from 16.

Who was your mentor?

[Cricket commentator] Brian Johnston. Had I not worked with him for three years, I’d probably want to be the broadcaster I am now, but I wouldn’t have had the confidence.

How physically fit are you?

Not nearly enough, despite the best intentions. I walk the dogs for an hour a day but I hate gyms. A stone could easily come off if I tried.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

Mentor: Brian Johnston

Without ambition, drive and the willingness to make sacrifices, I don’t think you get anywhere.

Have you ever taken an IQ test?

I must have done at school, but I don’t remember seeing the results.

How politically committed are you?

I really enjoy politics. It might have been something I would have gone into if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing now. The trouble is, I would have had to go straight in as prime minister. I wouldn’t have been a good backbencher.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

No. I suppose I should, but it’s tricky because I can’t think how you’d get to New Zealand or Australia without flying.

Do you have more than one home?


What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

I really can’t think of anything.

Extravagance: part-owned plane
What’s your biggest extravagance?

A share in a single-engine aeroplane.

In what place are you happiest?

At home, with the phone off.

What ambitions do you still have?

I’m ferociously competitive so I want to be the best. There’s still a long way to go to become the consummate broadcaster and cricket commentator.

What drives you on?

The above. Every professional sportsman has that drive in them.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

To have become a good stepfather, which is not an easy position to assume. I’ve been lucky to have two great stepkids to help me do it.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

Divorce. You don’t get married to get divorced and it has to be regarded as a failing, especially if there are children involved.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?

“Where has all my hair gone?”

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

There’s a book everyone should read: The City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre, about life in Calcutta. The message is that, however awful your life is, it’s still worth living, if your family and health are intact.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

Yes and I actually offered it to my stepchildren’s father, who had motor neurone disease – about the cruellest that can be inflicted. It was a sort of unspoken understanding between us. If he had wanted me to take him, I would have done it.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

I cling to the hope that there might be but, realistically, if there is, it must be pretty crowded.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

Nine. If I could press the pause button, I’d happily do it now.


‘Cricket: A Modern Anthology’, by Jonathan Agnew, is published by Blue Door/HarperCollins, £25

Get alerts on Jonathan Agnew when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.

Follow the topics in this article