Cricket mourns Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Test Match Special's revered voice of the English summer

Commentator dies aged 67

You could say it was the voice of the English summer – and now, in the depths of winter, it has been silenced.

Christopher Martin-Jenkins was Britain’s leading cricket commentator and for 40 years his precisely modulated tones conjured up for the nation white figures on a dazzlingly green pitch and the knock of leather on willow. Today he succumbed to the cancer that took hold a year ago. He was 67.

The passing of the much-loved former BBC cricket correspondent and president of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), universally known as CMJ, was met with a flood of tributes, led by his former colleagues on BBC’s Test Match Special.

“It is doubtful that anyone has contributed more in a lifetime to the overall coverage of cricket,” said the BBC’s current cricket correspondent, Jonathan Agnew, who was a close friend. “CMJ was one of cricket’s most respected writers and broadcasters. Listeners to Test Match Special were all too familiar with his eccentricities – like going to the wrong ground for the start of a Test match. His legendary, chaotic time-keeping was very much part of his charm.”

Not least among the public’s memories of him will be an incident in the summer of 2008 when Martin-Jenkins, whose clipped speech led to his being nicknamed “the Major” in the press box, was rendered almost incapable of speaking by a fit of the giggles. Delivering his account of the New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori facing the English bowler Stuart Broad, Martin-Jenkins said: “Broad’s in, he bowls, this time Vettori lets it go outside the off stump, good length, inviting him to fish.”

Then, with his next comment, Martin-Jenkins’ composure deserted him. “But Vettori stays on the bank… and keeps his rod down, so to speak.”

Adam Mountford, producer of Test Match Special, said: “CMJ was a true gentleman who embraced the changes in cricket whilst acting as a guardian of its traditions and values. Quite simply he will be remembered as one of the legendary characters of cricket writing and broadcasting.”

Martin-Jenkins began his long career in journalism as assistant to E W Swanton, a stalwart of Test Match Special for 30 years. He had two spells as the BBC’s cricket correspondent and filled the same role at The Daily Telegraph and The Times. He gave up broadcasting when his cancer was diagnosed but continued to produce written reports.

Although never a Test cricketer himself, unlike many modern commentators on the game, he was a useful schoolboy player at Marlborough College and played two games in Surrey’s Second XI. He was greatly respected by all the leading players of recent years and took great pride in the career of his son Robin, who played first-class cricket for Sussex.

The former England captain Sir Ian Botham tweeted: “Very sad to hear of the death of the ‘Major’, Christopher Martin-Jenkins. Our thoughts are with the family. A true Gentleman.”

Charlotte Edwards, captain of England’s women, said: “Awful news of Christopher Martin-Jenkins passing away, true gentleman and fantastic servant to the game of cricket.”

Appointed MBE in 2009, Martin-Jenkins served as the MCC’s president in 2010 and 2011, which was a singular honour for a journalist. The current MCC president, Mike Griffith, said: “As a commentator and journalist he was passionate about upholding the values of the game and always expressed his views with clarity and humour.

“Everyone at MCC shares the sadness felt by the cricketing world that his commentaries will never be heard again. CMJ will be sorely missed.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect