Henry Blofeld is a little confused. It's the morning of day one of the Boxing Day Test and he's missed the introduction on the other end of the phone line.
''I'm terribly sorry, I'm not with you,'' he says, as though juggling a marble in his mouth.
After a second introduction, he bellows: ''Oh, my dear old thing! Absolutely lovely. I'm so sorry. I wasn't with it at all.''
It sounds like an act, but having heard ''Blowers'' voice on cricket broadcasts all your life, you know this is the real thing.
''I've been here 15 or 20 times, in Melbourne,'' he says once the conversation starts. ''I've had many Christmases in Melbourne, yes I have. And I always enjoy it. I've been here so often, it's not very strange, if you see what I mean.''
Strange is in the eye of the beholder, and Blofeld is bathed in British eccentricity. ''Well, you know as well as I, why the series has gone like this,'' he says, almost annoyed at being asked for his thoughts on why England lost the Ashes.
''The key players haven't worked, have they? None of the key players have scored runs, the bowling hasn't been that good and Australia's bowlers, particularly Ryan Harris and Mitchell Johnson, have done very well. Good fast bowlers do damage.
''I think Australia were unlucky in England last time. I always thought Australia would win this series, but I thought England would be competitive. That's the nub of it.''
He continues on a roll. ''They've lost the series and it'll be five-nothing. They've disintegrated. Fragments have appeared and Australia have gone over the top. It's not the first time this has happened. But it's always disappointing when it makes the series uncompetitive.''
A far better display, Blofeld implies, is his two-man show with Peter Baxter, the producer for more than 30 years of the famous BBC program Test Match Special, which plays for one night at Sydney's Seymour Centre on Saturday. The pair recount anecdotes from decades around the commentary box at home and abroad and promise to give humorous insights into some of the game's most memorable - and some forgettable - moments.
''We had very good shows in Perth and Melbourne,'' Blofeld says. ''And Peter and I have got Tim Lane to join us, to give us an Australian viewpoint, to keep us honest. It's all gone very well so far.''
Blofeld, 74, who reportedly nearly died after a double heart-bypass operation in 1999, says he has done 150 of the shows in the past year.
''We play to big audiences in England,'' he says.
''I enjoy it. I wouldn't be doing it otherwise.''