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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Barnardo's: Corporate Audit and Inspection – Retail Intern (Leeds)

Unpaid - £4 lunch allowance plus travel to and from work: Barnardo's: Purpose ...

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Receptionist

£15000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future