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How the batsman's rod caused Martin-Jenkins to split his sides

The veteran cricket commentator Christopher Martin-Jenkins "corpsed" live on air yesterday after he referred to a batsman's "rod" on Radio 4's Test Match Special (TMS).

The man known throughout the cricketing world as CMJ collapsed in laughter during the 52nd over of New Zealand's first innings in the first Test match of the summer at Lord's. The New Zealand captain, Daniel Vettori, was facing the England seam bowler Stuart Broad as Martin-Jenkins leant into his microphone.

"Broad's in, he bowls, this time Vettori lets it go outside the off stump. Good length, inviting him to fish but Vettori stays on the bank and keeps his ... rod down, so to speak".

As he finished his sentence, chuckles could be heard in the TMS commentary box. Martin-Jenkins caught the bug, dissolved into a fit of giggles and only just managed to squeeze out the words "I don't know if he's a ... fisherman, is he?" before laughing uncontrollably for 10 seconds.

Struggling to regain his composure, Martin-Jenkins turned to his TMS colleague Jeremy Coney, the former New Zealand captain, for help, asking him "Is he Jeremy? I look to you ... for advice on these matters".

Coney's response did little to restore order to the usually tranquil TMS box. "I'm not sure about fisherman's rods either. Do they have those ... those extension ones, or are they just naturally long?"

The on-air hilarity drew comparisons with a famous TMS moment in 1991 involving the late Brian Johnston and Jonathan Agnew. On that occasion, Agnew's reference to Ian Botham, who "just couldn't quite get his leg over" led to a minute of uncontrollable giggles, as Johnston demanded of his colleague "Aggers, for goodness sake, stop it!"

The usually composed Martin-Jenkins, who was appointed BBC cricket correspondent in 1973 and edited The Cricketer before moving on to The Daily Telegraph in 1990, wrote his last column as The Times's chief cricket correspondent earlier this year after a decade at the paper. He continues to serve as a regular member of the TMS team.