1945-2013

Christopher Martin-Jenkins dies aged 67

ESPNcricinfo staff

January 1, 2013

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Christopher Martin-Jenkins, South Africa v England, 5th Test, 3rd day, January 23, 2005
Christopher Martin-Jenkins was involved in the media for more than 40 years. © Getty Images
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Christopher Martin-Jenkins, the cricket commentator, journalist and former MCC president, has died at the age of 67. He had been diagnosed with cancer in January last year.

Martin-Jenkins, born in Peterborough, joined the BBC in 1970 after a period with the Cricketer magazine which he joined straight from university and would later return to edit between 1981 and 1991.

He became an integral part of the Test Match Special commentary team from the early 1970s until his ill-health forced him to step back in 2012 and for a period in the 1980s was part of the television team. He was the BBC's cricket correspondent in two spells from 1973 to 1980 and 1985 to 1991

He was also a huge figure in the newspaper industry as cricket correspondent for the Daily Telegraph between 1991 and 1999 before moving to the Times where he held the same position until 2008 before handing over to Michael Atherton.

He continued to contribute to the paper until as recently as Monday, when he wrote about the death of Tony Greig: "It was probably for him a merciful release because the late stage of any cancer is often hell on earth."

Martin-Jenkins was awarded an MBE in 2008 and stood as the MCC president in 2010-11. He also played cricket for MCC on 67 occasions. Shortly after his illness was diagnosed, he released his memoir, CMJ: A Cricketing Life.

Mike Griffith, President of MCC, had known him since schooldays at Marlborough College. "Christopher gave tremendous service to cricket and to MCC," he 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 now being felt by the cricketing world that his live commentaries will never be heard again."

In 2007, he became the only career journalist and broadcaster to deliver the annual MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture. Previous lecturers had all been former international cricketers.

Jonathan Agnew, the BBC's cricket correspondent, praised Martin-Jenkins for having earned the respect of the cricketing world despite having never played at the top level.

"He was one of cricket's most respected writers and broadcasters," Agnew told BBC Radio 5 Live. "With modern media now preferring the views and experiences of former Test cricketers, Christopher's authority and respect was gained not through a high-profile playing career, but a deep-rooted love of the game.

"Listeners to Test Match Special will be all too familiar with CMJ's eccentricities, like going to the wrong ground for the start of a Test match, for example. His legendary chaotic time-keeping was very much part of his charm.

"It's doubtful if anyone has contributed more in a lifetime to the overall coverage of cricket than Christopher Martin-Jenkins."

Tributes from colleagues and former players were quick to appear on Twitter. Derek Pringle, now the Telegraph correspondent said: "Desperately sad to hear that CMJ has passed away. Always engaging company and a superb broadcaster and journalist he will be missed by many."

Ian Botham posted: "Very sad to hear of the death of the 'Major'... Christopher Martin Jenkins. Our thoughts are with the family. A true gentleman."

In statement, Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, said: "Cricket has lost one of its greatest champions. Christopher was a supremely talented broadcaster and writer; a fount of knowledge about cricket - both past and present; and, as a devoted supporter of Sussex, someone who cared deeply about county cricket and the wider recreational game.

"These were the qualities which made him an excellent president of MCC and it was always a privilege and a pleasure to be in his company and share discussions with him about our great game. He was man of great personal integrity, a true gentleman and our thoughts today are with his family and his close friends."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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