Tributes to CMJ, a ‘magnificent friend’

Christopher Martin-Jenkins opening nets at Horsham in 2011
Christopher Martin-Jenkins opening nets at Horsham in 2011

Horsham Cricket Club members have paid special tribute to ‘magnificent friend’ Christopher Martin-Jenkins, the legendary commentator who died on New Year’s Day.

A renowned correspondent for both The Times and The Daily Telegraph, CMJ - as he was affectionately known - will be best remembered for his commentary on the BBC’s Test Match Special in a distinguished career which spanned nearly 40 years.

CMJ, who had strong links with Horsham CC, died peacefully aged 67 at his home in Tismans Common, near Rudgwick on Tuesday morning following a year-long battle with cancer.

His association at Cricketfield Road began in the 1980s when his sons Robin and James joined Horsham as colts, Robin going on to forge a successful career at Sussex while still associated with Horsham.

CMJ even turned out for Horsham on occasion, predominantly for the Thursday XI until recent years, and he continued to support the club throughout; officially opening the club’s all weather nets in April last year, speaking at a number of end of year dinners and often seen around the ground during County Cricket Festival week, earning him an honorary vice president role.

Horsham president Hugh Thomas said: “While he will be remembered for his work on The Times and Telegraph, his biggest legacy without doubt will be his years on Test Match Special.

“He had the perfect voice for radio, was always very balanced in his views and was always a strong supporter of the players.

“We had the pleasure of him speaking at several annual dinners and he was always brilliant, and he also spoke beautifully at John Dew’s memorial service in 2008.”

Mr Thomas said CMJ had a particular fondness for Cricketfield Road, once naming it one of the six most beautiful grounds in the country in an article he wrote.

He added: “He was just a wonderful person, there were no airs and graces about him and he was friendly to everyone he met. Everybody at the club is desperately sad, and while his death doesn’t come as a big shock we feel we’ve really lost a magnificent friend above all.”

A talented cricketer, CMJ played for St Bede’s and Marlborough school sides and then captained his college team at Cambridge University before his commentating took over, first joining the BBC in 1973 and working as cricket correspondent for both the Daily Telegraph and The Times.

Tributes have been paid across the cricketing fraternity, where he has been described as part of the fabric of the game. Sir Ian Botham Tweeted: “Very sad to hear of the death of the ‘Major’... Christopher Martin Jenkins. Our thoughts are with the family. A true Gentleman!!”

In 2009 he was awarded an MBE and he served as the MCC’s president in 2010 and 2011.