I FIND it a real shame the larger-than-life Henry Blofeld is hanging up his microphone.

Cricket’s chief raconteur will leave the Test Match Special comms box for the final time this summer, and his quintessential charm, inimitable dress sense and use of language will be missed by audiences across the planet.

At the age of 77 he announced his decision – one that prompted an outpouring of emotion in cricket fans – in typically self-deprecating fashion, insisting: “Listeners will now be relieved to know that their chances of being told the right name of the fielders at third man and fine leg have greatly increased.”

Outfielders’ names may have escaped him on occasion but invariably passing buses and invading pigeons provided ‘Blowers’ with a whole host of material that was not just broadcastable, but the basis of almost 50 years of affection from listeners.

They hung on his every word, imagining him enjoying cream teas, fine wines and the company of his colleagues, the “dear old things”.

Few sports commentators commanded such affection as Blofeld. The only ones I can think of are Richie Benaud, Sid Waddell and Murray Walker. These days there is probably only Chris Kamara in that bracket, though he is clearly a different kind of bonkers.

What always came across with Blofeld was that he clearly loved the game and felt privileged to be able to travel the world watching it, in return for sharing his wonderful on-air musings, often bizarre anecdotes and witty ramblings.

His own playing career was ended by his being hit by a bus while cycling. If clouds have silver linings, then nearly a half-century of his larking about on the wireless is certainly that collision’s argenteus finis.

That may not be quite right but I’m sure the man himself could set me straight on it.

The writing was perhaps on the wall when he was omitted from working the limited-overs matches England were involved in, and voicing his views on the rise of Twenty20 cricket and the negative effect it was likely to have on standards in the game’s longer form perhaps did his cause no favours.

But the old eccentric, who for years has been kitted out in garish garb even Richard Whiteley would think twice about, admits he is finding himself increasingly out of touch with the younger breed on TMS and making more on-air errors. Not that anyone tuning in cared one jot, mind you.

With such a plummy voice and an Eton education you could be forgiven for thinking he was a stick in the mud from a bygone age, unable to truly move with the times and banging on about how things were better in his day. But Blofeld has been a firm advocate of the progress in the women’s game, and how that is reflected in the TMS roster.

The programme seems to recruit based more on the basis that people who played for England should get a go these days, but Test Match Special will be far less special for Blowers not being there.