CMJ honoured by the vast turnout for his memorial service at St. Paul’s Cathedral

Courtesy of The Nation, …’s-spirit-of-cricket-awards-launched.html

CMJ Pic from AFP

It’s the start of what we all hope will be a really exciting international cricketing summer on Test Match Special with the New Zealand tour, the ICC Champions Trophy and of course the Ashes. Four years ago, England had to beat Australia in the last Test of the summer to wrestle back the urn. At the microphone as Mike Hussey was dismissed by Graeme Swann that day was Christopher Martin-Jenkins. His words – “It’s all over. England have regained the Ashes… on a golden evening at The Oval” – perfectly described the magic of that moment.
 As Jonathan Agnew summed up during his eulogy for Christopher at St Paul’s Cathedral last month, commentators live for moments like that “but without CMJ, they’ll never sound quite the same again.” There is a rather bittersweet feeling in the TMS commentary box at Lord’s this week. We are buoyed by what lies ahead this summer, but saddened that this is our first home series without our much-loved and much-missed colleague.

Christopher might have been a nightmare to produce at times with his eccentric timekeeping and technophobia, but I will miss hearing those rapid steps along the corridor and crash through the commentary box door as he realised he was late for yet another spell. His punctuality may have tested the patience, but his arrival at the microphone was always worth the wait.

It is a symbol of what CMJ meant to the game that tickets for his memorial service were massively oversubscribed, and St Paul’s was jam-packed with former players, friends and many Test Match Special listeners. The service was a perfect tribute to Christopher in every way — except perhaps that it began and ended on time. The same sort of words and phrases kept coming out about CMJ during the memorial service and the gathering at Lord’s afterwards. “A gentleman”. “A decent man”. “Cricket’s greatest friend”.

Christopher was someone who believed in doing the right thing. He was a fierce supporter of the “Spirit of Cricket” – a concept described in the preamble to the laws of the game. The opening sentence reads: “Cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it should be played not only within its laws, but also within the spirit of the game. Any action which is seen to abuse this spirit causes injury to the game itself.”

After the death of another broadcasting great, Brian Johnston, the programme introduced the “Champagne Moment” to celebrate his contribution to cricket, and we hope the “Christopher Martin-Jenkins Spirit of Cricket Awards” will do something similar in his honour. We know how proud CMJ was to be asked to be MCC president in 2010-11, so it is apt for the BBC to join with the guardians of the laws and spirit of the game to launch these prizes.

There will be both a professional award and a grassroots prize reflecting CMJ’s love of cricket at all levels. The Elite Award will be presented to a professional cricketer who has made the biggest contribution to the Spirit of Cricket in the 2013 English cricket season. We hope the “Christopher Martin-Jenkins Spirit of Cricket Awards” will be a fitting memorial to what the man believed was right in the game. Test Match Special may never sound quite the same again, but hopefully this award will be a constant reminder of CMJ’s great contribution and also the standards that we strive to preserve. – [BBC]

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