Jonathan Agnew and the BBC Test Match Special team, managed to pull off a daring practical joke on fellow commentator Geoffrey Boycott on Day 5 of the third Test between England and South Africa at the Oval.
The elaborately planned "wind-up" began with Agnew reading out a doctored press release from the ICC regarding an England Test series in the 1970s against Rest of the World XI.
— Jonathan Agnew (@Aggerscricket) July 31, 2017
The essence of the release was that the series was stripped off their First-Class status as they were deemed “against the spirit of the Gleneagles Agreement” — a pact between Commonwealth nations to discourage sporting contact with South Africa as part of an international campaign against apartheid in the country.
A clearly bemused Boycott condemned the release, saying, “That’s ridiculous,” calling it a "load of tripe”.
Agnew continued his ingenious prank by having BBC TMS statistician Andrew Samson reveal what that meant in terms of Boycott’s career figures.
If the century against Rest of the World XI is written off from his record, the legendary Yorkshireman's fabled 100th First-Class century against Australia in the Ashes at his home ground of Headingley, would now become his 99th.
And "the most magical moment of his life" seemed less special and momentous for Boycott.
What made the prank particularly diabolical is the date and the context. Agnew cheekily asks Boycott if he had anything planned for the 40th anniversary of the milestone. The Boycott family indeed did. They were commemorating it with a charity dinner for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance at his house on 11 August.
Agnew knew that of course. After all, he was invited.
“You’ll have to cancel it,” Agnew said. “You’ve invited people under false pretences.”
Boycott said he can't as he had already sold all the tickets for the dinner.
"It's a mess," said Agnew. "You’re right, it’s an absolute mess" concurred a dejected Boycott.
Agnew, believing they have taunted the poor man enough, decided to finally let him out of his misery, "It is a mess and also an absolute wind-up"
As the BBC TMS commentary team bursted out laughing, Boycott, half-relieved and half-flustered, exclaimed, "You Muppet. Is that a wind-up? You Muppet, Agnew, I’ll get you for that. You’ve got me a few times, but that’s the biggest one."
— Geoffrey Boycott (@GeoffreyBoycott) July 31, 2017
Boycott later vowed to avenge the humiliation he suffered in what former Australian batsman Dean Jones called the “greatest gee-up of all-time.”
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