Rajan's Wrong 'un: Mischief-maker CMJ will always be a hero to me

 

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.

twitter.com/amolrajan

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried