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CMJ: A Cricketing Life By Christopher Martin-Jenkins

Release date: 19th May, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

List Price: 25.00
Our Price: 15.10
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Given the game's multiple idiosyncrasies, it seems that cricket is, rightly, among the sports most heavily populated with abbreviated, but easily-recognisable, forms of players, officials and reporters' names (Johnners, Beefy, Aggers etc). Naturally enough, it follows that one of the most famed TMS characters should name his memoirs CMJ.

Christopher Martin-Jenkins, he of the mellifluous voice, fine cricket writing and sometimes willing foil for co-commentators such as Henry Blofeld, has been around cricket for all of his working life. His memoirs are laden with tales of cricketing folk and their occasionally quirky ways, but he's not afraid to express opinions on matters as far-ranging as television's obsession with football, the changing nature of Ashes duels and the debilitating impact match-fixing is having on the game.

Educated at Marlborough College and Cambridge (where he was a contemporary of historian David Starkey), CMJ appeared destined to become a cricket writer from the moment he was interviewed by EW Swanton for the post as assistant to the deputy editor of The Cricketer. A talented all-rounder (he scored his first 50 at Lord's in 1972), CMJ later moved to the BBC where he would eventually become a household name.

The list of people (and accompanying anecdotes or pithy, descriptive one-liners) with whom he has worked reads like a sporting Who's Who. Several, such as Colin Milburn and Henry Blofeld, stand out, the former for almost drinking a Mediterranean cruise ship dry, the latter for being Blowers - a man who invariably turned up at the start of a new cricket season and announced he had fallen in love. Again.

Though primarily a sports fan (he's a keen golfer), CMJ despairs at what he calls the "pernicious Premier League" which, he maintains, "tends to swallow all in its over-hyped wake." He has a point - as he does when asking why the BBC has jettisoned its original brief to 'inform, educate and entertain' and replaced it with a celebrity-based obsession.

CMJ writes extraordinarily well, engaging readers with a lightness of touch which allows him to accommodate everything from amusing anecdotes to trenchant opinion. His memoir has the feel of a conversation held with someone during a cricket match, a chat alternating between tales of exasperation and stories of sporting prowess. It's exactly as a memoir should be.

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