1945-2013

Christopher Martin-Jenkins dies aged 67

ESPNcricinfo staff

January 1, 2013

Comments: 61 | Text size: A | A

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.

Posted by TORONTO123456 on (January 4, 2013, 10:38 GMT)

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

Posted by 2.14istherunrate 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.

Posted by NasserAliKhan 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.

Posted by   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.

Posted by vajira12 on (January 2, 2013, 10:04 GMT)

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

Posted by ajithabey 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.

Posted by   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.

Posted by   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

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 22:41 GMT)

A very sad loss. Condolences to his family. Forunately I have tape recorded several hours of TMS over the years and will continue to be able to listen to CMJ plus other departed greats, Arlott, Johnners, Fred, and Swanton.

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 22:18 GMT)

One of the best cricket commentators ever. I hope his soul rests in peace. One of the best pieces I heard of him was his commentary of the Eng vs India test at trent bridge in 2007.

Posted by TDWirral on (January 1, 2013, 22:07 GMT)

I heard of CMJ's passing on the ABC News on the way to work this morning. Totally shocked as I didn't even know that he was so ill. I loved your commentaries when I used to listen to TMS. RIP.

Posted by Chris_P on (January 1, 2013, 20:45 GMT)

Wow, another legend leaving us. Sincere wishes to his family for this tragic loss. His writings were amongst the first I used to read, a wonderful writer & true follower of our great game. RIP CMJ.

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 19:32 GMT)

Another great commentator has gone too early will be missed.

Posted by whoster on (January 1, 2013, 18:58 GMT)

@Sat Matharu. That's a very good point about CMJ and Tony Greig being polar opposites, but of course they both made the game of cricket far richer with their huge and varying contributions. I'd say CMJ was on a par with Richie Benaud inasmuch as neither of them ever said anything that wasn't worth hearing. His wonderful blend of intelligence, etiquette, humour, eloquence and mildly old-fashioned traditionalism will be sorely missed. It's been a terrible year for premature cricketing deaths, but it should remind us all that the reason we love the game of cricket is because it's not that important in the grand scheme of things.

Posted by wnwn on (January 1, 2013, 17:50 GMT)

RIP Tony Greig and CMJ, 2 of my most favourite commentators.

Posted by JG2704 on (January 1, 2013, 17:43 GMT)

Echo all the other comments. I guess you have to be that little bit better to keep the listeners interested on the radio and CMJ was a top commentator. Very sad news

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 17:36 GMT)

He may always have been "the late CMJ" (see Aggers' comments), but we who listen to TMS will miss him. RIPCMJ: two good ones in a week.

Posted by Julian_Franklin on (January 1, 2013, 17:25 GMT)

What a shock. The quintessential English broadcaster and commentator of his generation, he possessed qualities few in the modern generation have. He appreciated and respected the traditions of the game well beyond most so called 'experts'. Our thoughts are with his family - as his niece's form teacher and nephew's cricket teacher I know the cricketing enthusiasm remains strong within the family. A very sad loss to the game and to Sussex cricket.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (January 1, 2013, 16:46 GMT)

England has lost another legend, this time a man who despite not following a career as a professional cricketer loved the game with the up most sincerity. I watched his son Robin play regularly for Sussex and no doubt he was very proud of him. There were many deaths in English cricket in 2012 that should bear reflection, from losing the promising young Tom Maynard, to Tony Grieg recently and now CMJ. His passing, although tragic on his family, allows us to remember fondly the years he spent in public broadcasting and devoted to the game he loved so much.

Posted by gudolerhum on (January 1, 2013, 16:31 GMT)

Further sad news. First the recent passing of Tony Greig and now CMJ. The loss to the world of cricket broadcasting and journalism is immeasurable. He brought a wonderful perspective and insight to his contributions. He served the game so well for decades. To his family and friends I extend my condolences. He shall be sorely missed. May he Rest In Peace.

Posted by Trickstar on (January 1, 2013, 16:23 GMT)

Shocking news, it's been a horrible last year or so for English cricket, with the passing of a number of great men, from Dilley last year to Tom Maynard and now to Greigy and CMJ, all taken from us far too young.

The biggest complement I can pay CMJ is that I could listen to him talk about cricket endlessly for days on end and often did. He was one of the legendary characters of cricket writing and broadcasting and there's no doubt we've lost another champion today. RIP CMJ.

Posted by Robster1 on (January 1, 2013, 16:05 GMT)

How very sad - what a good man he was. TMS will never be the same. A bad few days for all at Sussex.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (January 1, 2013, 15:34 GMT)

Now CM-J! Heartfelt condolences to his family. For me, he was top drawer in so many ways. His abiding love of the game was a joy to share, whether listening to his thoughtful & crystal clear commentary or reading his engaging musings on the game, CM-J was never tediious. He appreciated the value of words & in consequence, did not waste them. Above all, there was an old school mannerliness about him. Not from him the unkind word, not from him the politicking that so bedevils the dark corners of our game nowadays. CM-J always looked for the best, the exemplary. He has gone now, & the world is just that much poorer for his passing. I have a private mental picture of him that it's now right to share. During the Galle Test of 2001, I happened to be staying in the same hotel as many of the press & BBC comms. CM-J, stripped to the waist (so thin!) is composing a piece, long-hand, on a chaise-langue in the garden. He's working hard; the sun beats down: not to be disturbed. We shall miss him.

Posted by CamS71 on (January 1, 2013, 15:28 GMT)

RIP CMJ, another great of broadcasting goes. Sad times.

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 15:22 GMT)

A very sad news. Another great commentator and another great loss for cricket lovers..................

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 14:50 GMT)

Very sad to here the passing of CMJ. He was a great friend, colleague and a companion in the press box. His voice was unique and easily identifiable on TMS. He will sure be missed. Thank you for your contribution to the sport!

Posted by Sriram.Dayanand on (January 1, 2013, 14:47 GMT)

A voice that was such a big part of childhood. A voice that built such a strong bond through the shortwave radio with wide-eyed kids listening to the BBC with their fathers in India (and everywhere). Rest in peace, CMJ. All I have is warmth and affection for you and your voice.

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 14:45 GMT)

I use to listen great 3 commentators in 1970's and early 80's Christopher M J, Bryn Jonson, and Tom Modi. End of and era. Thank dear.

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 14:38 GMT)

What a sad moment. Words fail me. Thank you, CMJ, for enjoying the privilege of listening to you on TMS. Thank you so very much. Your voice will be dearly missed, even here in Germany.

Posted by sonicattack on (January 1, 2013, 14:36 GMT)

@whoster - well said! Funnily enough, those comments by CMJ at Headingley in '81 are also stored in my memory. I always enjoyed CMJ's commentary, literate, accurate and I found, a humourous touch over the years. TMS won't be the same, a sad loss to the world of cricket and many condolences to his family.

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 14:36 GMT)

Very sad news, to read his reports and to listen to him commentating on cricket which were always fair and professionally done. Rip CMJ

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 14:11 GMT)

whats happening to the world...another great commentator leaves us...

Posted by whoster on (January 1, 2013, 14:09 GMT)

It's been a sad few days losing two of cricket's most popular personalities. CMJ, like Tony Greig, had an unshakeable passion for the game, and CMJ truly was one of the great writers and commentators. He'll be remembered mainly for his wonderful contribution to Test Match Special, but my abiding memory of his commentary work was on BBC TV during the legendary Headingley '81 Test - where he was standing in for Jim Laker. He took to the role so easily, and added so much to the occasion. When Botham hit his first boundary on the way to 149* CMJ said, "What a triumph it'd be for him if he was still batting at 6 o'clock this evening"; and when Botham and Dilley were flailing the Aussie attack, "Even if they haven't turned the match upside down, they've certainly turned the character of the match upside down." He always came across as a loveable headmaster with his scholarly and courteous ways. A very sad day, and cricket has lost one of its great philosophers and gentlemen.

Posted by ashes61 on (January 1, 2013, 13:34 GMT)

Desperately sad news, even if not unexpected. The world of cricket commentary, already struggling to match the standards of the past and patently losing the battle, can ill afford to lose such masters. Not only one of the great writers of the game, but in my lifetime the best commentator of them all - and that includes both Arlott & Johnners, great as they were. Utterly professional, balanced, calm, authoratitive (resulting from his massive knowledge) and never tempted to abandon his main task - to describe accurately what is going on - despite TMS's deserved reputation for its wonderful discourses. Genuine cricket lovers have lost one of the greatest of cricket lovers.

Posted by Long-Leg on (January 1, 2013, 13:34 GMT)

Very sad indeed. I will miss his humour and clarity of expression on TMS. He was one of the very best commentator in the modern game.

Posted by CricketChat on (January 1, 2013, 13:33 GMT)

From the first time I listened to CMJ on radio, always felt he was one of the top 3 commentators of all time while upholding values of the game. A true voice of cricket for a long time. RIP.

Posted by Lahori92 on (January 1, 2013, 13:00 GMT)

last year ended on a sad note by the passing of Tony Greig, and the new year has started in the same way by the passing of CMJ, a great writter and a wonderful commentator. I am sure Tony Greig and CMJ would make a wonderful commentating team up there. Condolences to his family, and may your soul rest in peace, Amen

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 12:59 GMT)

A great shame,I feel sorry for his son Robin and the rest of his family!

Posted by LillianThomson on (January 1, 2013, 12:59 GMT)

Vale CMJ, an old-fashioned gentleman, and I mean that as a high compliment.

It's strange that he has died within a few days of Tony Greig. 32 years ago when I was a schoolboy I bought CMJ's book "Cricket Contest" about the 1979-80 Post-Packer Tests in Australia between Australia and England (3 tests) and the West Indies (3 Tests).

CMJ was always establishment-to-the-core, and he was clearly appalled - mortified - by the new razzamatazz of international cricket, and he articulated a view that money would subvert cricket from its honourable foundations.

But he was a lovely man. Many of us in Australia go to extraordinary lengths to be able to listen to the BBC's Test Match Special. CMJ, Blowers and Vic Marks are as much the reason as Geoffrey Boycott and Aggers. He will be missed.

Posted by jfinch on (January 1, 2013, 12:50 GMT)

Sad indeed. A great voice on TMS and wonderful writing in The Times.

Posted by banglafan on (January 1, 2013, 12:41 GMT)

Really really sad news. He has provided countless hours of listening pleasure through his ball-by-ball descriptions. You could almost "see" the game in your mind. His family should know that a very large fraternity of TMS listeners in Bangladesh are deeply saddened at the passing away of CMJ.

Posted by WillPash on (January 1, 2013, 12:37 GMT)

A sad start to this new year. Another loss to this great game, as I will miss his dry wit and charm on TMS. Brilliant journalist and commentator. So soon after Greigy, not a great few days to remember for Cricket; but the memories will last for eternity. All my condolences go out to his family. CMJ RIP

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 12:34 GMT)

I will miss him greatly. Goodbye CMJ - you were part of my love of cricket for so long. If any of CMJ's family are reading this, may I express my condolences to you.

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 12:31 GMT)

Very very sad news. CMJ was my favourite commentator and he will be greatly missed.

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 12:28 GMT)

Some more sad news as the cricket voices of the 70's and 80's are leaving us..

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 12:20 GMT)

Very sad news... after Tony's death in the last week, it is a cruel blow to the cricket lovers like us. They made cricket more popular by their wonderful & flowing description. Both had a very good pleasing voice & great knowledge of the game. We have become poorer now. I feel as a part of my life is taken away from me. we too are dying, alibit slowly, with the death of such legendary personalities. They don'e make it like them anymore. RIP both of U.....

Posted by ell_bee on (January 1, 2013, 12:20 GMT)

As and Aussie the same age as CMJ, I can say that I enjoyed his work for many many years and that he will be sadly missed

Posted by InvisiblePJs on (January 1, 2013, 12:13 GMT)

Spent many a late night as a teenager tuned in to the BBC coverage in the 70s listening to the great man's dulcet tones commentating the Ashes. RIP CMJ

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 12:11 GMT)

I have never met Mr. Christopher Marting Jenkins ( I wish I had) . His commentry during TMS was something " Special" I will miss his commentry and his warm personality that came thro' his commentry. Rest In Peace CMJ

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 12:10 GMT)

such sad news.i was brought up listening to cmj.

Posted by   on (January 1, 2013, 12:09 GMT)

Very sad to hear. One of the voices of cricket.

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