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
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...