Rajan's Wrong 'un: Mischief-maker CMJ will always be a hero to me
Amol Rajan was appointed editor of The Independent in June 2013. He was previously Editor of Independent Voices, a comment, campaigns and community platform across print and digital. He was earlier Deputy Comment Editor, Sports News Correspondent and News Reporter. He writes a restaurant column for The Independent on Sunday, and has a column in the Evening Standard (Thursdays). He presents ‘Power Lunch’ on London Live TV (Thursdays), a one-to-one interview with the most influential people in the capital. Previously, Amol worked on Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff, and at the Foreign Office. He is currently a trustee of Prospex, a charity for young people in Islington. He has also written a book called ‘Twirlymen: the Unlikely History of Cricket’s Greatest Spin Bowlers’.
Monday 22 April 2013
In a fittingly grand service at St Paul's last week, Christopher Martin-Jenkins was remembered as the best friend cricket ever had. His amateur affection for the game, and bumbling technophobia, were celebrated by many living legends of the game. But what I admired most about CMJ, one of my heroes as a child, is just what a canny and mischievous hack he was.
I basically decided to be a journalist after reading his match reports in the Telegraph and Times.
A couple of years ago, I wrote to him saying I was researching a book on spin bowling, and invited him to lunch. We duly met at the Fox and Hounds in Funtington, West Sussex, where he ordered cod and chips and gave me the benefit of his wisdom.
I told him in confidence that, on the train down, a funny thing happened. I sat behind Nigel Lawson, and watched as this former Chancellor grew ever more stressed and angry. He was struggling with the Telegraph's Sudoku – the one marked 'medium' on the difficulty level. Given he was famed for his intellectual flair and grasp of arithmetic, this struck me as rather ironic. When I told CMJ, he bellowed out a mighty laugh and said "That's too good to miss, isn't it?!".
I thought nothing of it until, years later, I discovered this tale was relayed in CMJ's autobiography. Cricket nut and committed Christian though he was, CMJ was a muck-raking hack at heart.
My sympathy for Singh
Last Saturday, Chennai Super Kings (166-6) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore (165-6) by four wickets in a thrilling match in the Indian Premier League.
In the last over Virat Kohli, the Royals' captain, chucked the ball to seamer R P Singh. With the Super Kings needing two to win off the last ball, Singh bowled a bouncer, Ravindra Jadeja slashed at it and was caught at third man, seemingly handing victory to the Royals. It was then we all noticed that the umpire's arm was outstretched for a no-ball, only the third of the innings, and as the batsmen crossed for a run, victory went instead to Chennai.
Now, when we say this was a no-ball, it wasn't just any old no-ball. It was about as big a no-ball as you'll see in first-class cricket. Singh was maybe a foot over. Some screeched foul play; Kohli rushed to defend his man publicly after the game.
Well, I say: not a word of it. This is the IPL. Despite all the billions washing around, foul play just does not happen. What actually transpired is that an extra-terrestrial life force beamed down before that final ball, unbeknown to poor Singh, and moved his bowling mark forward by 13 inches. In such circumstances you could hardly expect a top-class bowler to have his wits about him, and know where the popping crease is.
Denness deserves more
It's not the done thing to dance on the graves of the recently deceased, but a friend's text message last week deserves a wider audience. I sent him a text saying Mike Denness had died of cancer at 72. "Oo-er. That's a chunk of my boyhood gone," came back the reply. It went on: "Denness stepping away to square leg umpire v Thommo [Jeff Thomson] in 74-75 [Ashes series in which England lost] the single most humiliating moment in all cricket history."
Very, very few men with ambitions to play at the highest level make it to the Test arena and a tiny fraction of those that do can boast, as Denness could, that they captained their country. But what a grim misfortune that, to an entire generation, he'll be remembered not for his fluent batting, but according to the withering verdict above.
Raheem Sterling to Manchester City: Winger to report for Liverpool training on today but Reds braced for third City bid this week
Morgan Schneiderlin to Arsenal: Transfer news live - Sergio Ramos to Manchester United; Raheem Sterling to Manchester City
Football kits 2015/16: The good, the bad and the downright worst new shirts from around the world for next season
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Kyrgios set for heavy fine for giving up game during loss to Richard Gasquet
Nick Kyrgios praises fans smearing Vegemite and Nutella on their faces in support of Wimbledon star
- 1 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 2 Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess
- 3 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 4 Greek debt crisis: Yanis Varoufakis's funniest (and most memorable) quotes
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture