Men for all seasons: the late, late CMJ, and AWG – the man in the broad brimmed hat…

5 01 2013

Men for all seasons:

p01384dv“And we don’t need a calculator to tell us that the required run-rate is 4.5454 per over”

“Gul has another ball in his hand and he bowls to Bell who has two” 

“It’s a perfect day here in Australia, glorious blue sunshine”

The late, late Christopher Martin-Jenkins – cricket broadcaster and writer (1945-2013)

STS300104GREIGCUTOU_315429k“I like to think that people are building these West Indians up. I’m not really sure they are as good as everyone thinks they are…if they are down they grovel, and I intend …to make them grovel”  

Tony Greig (1946-2012) England cricket captain (1975-77)

(West Indies went on to win the 1976 series 5-0)

TOny Gteig“In the back of Hughes’ mind must be the thought that he will dance down the piss and mitch one”

“Touch him up before rolling him over”

“That’s straight up in the air… Waugh won’t drop this…oh he’s dropped it! I can’t believe it! What’s going on here?”

“Give your life to cricket and it will take you on the most fantastic journey, a lifetime journey both on and off the field”

Tony Greig, TV commentator.

 David_Lloyd_MainAs commentators they were both AAA+, although at different ends of the spectrum. One was very traditional and old school, while Greigy was one of the vibrant new breed who got things across in his own way.”

“…Christopher, the absent-minded professor.  He’s one of those guys that you couldn’t find anybody in the world with a bad word to say about him. He was such an affectionate chap.He was fantastic raconteur, a wonderful story-teller and he was simply perfect for Test Match Special. He was right up there with McGilvaray, Arlott and Johnson in my view.”

“(Greig) was an outrageous character… he truly was a pioneer for cricketers. He brought the sport out of the dark ages and was a very important figure for our game.”

‘Bumble’ – David Lloyd, Sky Sports cricket commentator

The eagerly awaited 2013 clash for the Ashes will be missing two of its key players – not on the pitch but in the commentary box.

Christopher Martin-Jenkins, universally known in the cricketing world as CMJ, and to his Test Match Special colleagues as ‘the late CMJ’ – due to his chaotic time keeping (one obituary pointed out, sadly, he has now become the late, late CMJ) died on New Year’s Day – aged just  67.

Anthony ‘Tony’ William Greig – or ‘Greigy’ – predominantly of  Australian Network Nine, preceded him by three days, succumbing to a heart attack – aged 66.

Both men had been battling with cancer.

CMJ, for a number of years chief cricket correspondent at The Times, filed his final copy the day before he died. It was Greigy’s obituary!

119139854_CMJ_370103cPrivately educated at Marlborough, for whom he scored 99 against Rugby School at Lords, an alumnus of Fitzwilliam College Cambridge, leaving with a 2.1 in modern history – as did his ‘Fitz’ contemporary, renowned historian, David Starkey!

CMJ, at various times throughout his cricket broadcasting and writing career, held just about every high office going: chief cricket correspondent at the BBC, The Daily Telegraph and The Times, editor of The Cricketer magazine and President of the MCC. He was also invited to be editor of a certain daffodil coloured almanac, the cricketing Bible, ‘Wisden’.

CMJHe came across the airwaves as an amiable but authoritative head-masterly figure dedicated, solely, to providing a concise but precise description of every
ball delivered and dispatched. There was  neither the poetry of an Arlott or the frivolity of a ‘Johners’, but off air he was a noted for his eccentric behaviour and mimicry, a throwback to student days when he auditioned for the Cambridge Footlights.

In many ways CMJ’s understated commentary style was the glue that held the TMS team together, allowing more colourful characters to play around him. He will be sorely missed, a cricketing traditionalist with an encyclopedic knowledge of the, game always more at home in the Test Match arena than the pyjama game, and one of the last professional commentators in an era where ex-players are beginning to proliferate.

tony-greig-3Tony Greig was, first and foremost, a fine cricketer. South African born, he played for and captained England by virtue of his Scottish parentage. An imposing figure, standing at  6 feet 8 inches, with a shock of blonde hair (in his playing days) He was a totem figure, a swashbuckling  leader who led from the front.

His stats as an England all-rounder, in 58 Tests, averaging 40 with the bat and taking 141 wickets, at 32 runs apiece, with a mixture of medium pace and off-breaks, are second only to those of Sir Ian Botham – and yet he rarely rates a mention when all-time great England players are up for discussion.

He was a flamboyant player, an exhilarating batsman, carving the ball to all parts of the ground, an innovative stroke-smith who frequently, intentionally, slashed the ball up and over the slip cordon or square-cut for six.

Tony GreigBut there are those who will always more readily refer to his infamous faux pas, the insensitive use of the word ‘grovel’, fraught with political undertones, aimed at the West Indies touring team of ’76.

And then, for many more in the cricket establishment, that bounder Greig will remain forever tarred by his central role in 80px-Wsc-logo.svgrecruiting English players for Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer’s 1970s World Series Cricket. It cost him the England captaincy, brought a premature end to a successful Test playing career, and heralded his demise from, one time, golden boy of English cricket to money grabbing South African mercenary.

Packer, owing Greig a debt of gratitude, offered him a job for life, commentating on Network Nine’s cricket coverage, where his forthright, sometimes abrasive, manner behind the microphone was reminiscent of his confrontational playing style, winning a cult following for the man in the broad-brimmed sun hat.

Greigy was famously prone to hyperbole, and his over excitement often led to premature ejaculation, signalling boundaries that never were and catches that did not stick, followed by a disbelieving retraction and apology, in that unmistakable Transvaal drawl.

CMJ and AWG (both adopted sons of Sussex) were worlds apart stylistically, and as personalities, but they were united in their enormous regard for the game from which they earned a living, bringing joy to thousands of cricket lovers around the globe. Both will be greatly missed.

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