Celebration of a gentleman of cricket

Two thousand cricket lovers packed St Paul’s Cathedral to celebrate the life of a great friend of Horsham Cricket Club, Christopher Martin-Jenkins MBE, who died on New Year’s Day.

A long-term vice-president at Horsham, CMJ played for the club and made amusing speeches at dinners whenever his extensive broadcasting and writing commitments allowed.

As MCC president, he made time to open the new practice complex at the club, which he described as his most pleasant duty. His sons – James and recently-retired Sussex all-rounder Robin – cut their cricket teeth at Horsham.

The District Post joined England players, including Christ’s Hospital old boy John Snow and at least six captains of the national team, at St Paul’s for the service.

Former Bishop of Norwich Peter Nott, who was CMJ’s Cambridge chaplain, recalled how they had written sketches and performed reviews together. Mr Nott described him as “a gentleman, a true Christian gentleman”.

Sir Tim Rice agreed and paid tribute to CMJ’s professionalism, epitomised by him writing a fine obituary on Sussex and England’s Tony Greig shortly before his own demise.

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew said: “CMJ’s contributions were detailed, humorous, yet precise and always in exactly the right historical context.”

To illustrate his point, Agnew played excerpts of some of CMJ’s keynote contributions during over 40 years on the BBC’s Test Match Special and quoted from a letter suggesting that the commentator had sounded like a Dalek.

The congregation filed out smiling after listening to CMJ adopting that role, beseeching the bowler to exterminate the batsman.

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