1945-2013 January 1, 2013

Christopher Martin-Jenkins dies aged 67

ESPNcricinfo staff

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."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ricky on January 4, 2013, 10:38 GMT

    He got lovely voice specially made for 'Test match cricket ' Radio commentory - RIP

  • Michael on January 3, 2013, 0:47 GMT

    A very sad moment for cricket lovers, especially in England. He always seemed vaguely indestructible as a symbol of the game. I do hope there is not another death in the near future.

  • Nasser on January 2, 2013, 14:12 GMT

    CMJ was a brilliant cricket commentator as he made listening to test cricket that much more interesting. May his soul rest in peace.

  • Dummy4 on January 2, 2013, 13:19 GMT

    Thank you CMJ, No one delivered the game as he did, this chap could make the most boring pasage of play interesting. It was his tones that hooked me from an early age, he was why i listened to TMS not Talk sport, in fact when i did switch on, it was almost a relief that CMJ was commentating, you knew the score was not far away and that his description was going to be almost as good as TV (on which i'd turn the sound down) Rest in Peace.

  • vajira on January 2, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    what a sad news. It has been a joy to listen to him over the BBC

  • Ajith on January 2, 2013, 6:38 GMT

    another great personality leaves Cricket at the start of the year . CMJ was part of a team of a superb combination of writers and commentators in the past .He will be greatly missed by cricket enthusiasts around the world.May he rest in peace.

  • Dummy4 on January 2, 2013, 0:47 GMT

    There's a guy who you should shower with praise. There is a man who knew the beauty of cricket... If only any of us were just one fifth his standard then maybe, posssibly maybe, we could do the game justice.It's a' sad day and the loss is so obviousely apparent.

    So CricIfo... who have you got ot replace CMJ? No-one? You have no-one.

  • Dummy4 on January 1, 2013, 23:17 GMT

    Another legend in the great Cricket family has gone!Terribly sad.Condolences to CMJ's family.He was a clear thinker of the game whose knowledge and opinions will be sadly missed