Cricket lost two legends as 2012 gave way to 2013. First Tony Greig, the South Africa-born 1970s England captain. As if that wasn’t enough, within three days the voice of cricket, BBC commentator Christopher Martin-Jenkins lost his battle against cancer.
Both featured heavily in my 1970s teenage holidays. Cricket was the sound track to my summer, courtesy of the BBC’s Test Match Special (TMS) and I loved Tony Greig’s confident style and sense of humour. I was enthralled in the hot summer of 1976 by his wonderful partnership with Alan Knott in the Leeds test against the West Indies. (Both scored 116.) It was the highlight of a disappointing series for England, and I remember listening to the latest collapse on the radio as we enjoyed the heatwave at Tintagel.
Greig looked foolish after his boastful claim that his team would make the West Indies grovel. (Although a 3-0 series defeat looked good compared with the 1984 whitewash.) Yet Greig’s sense of humour won friends, as his team mate and friend Mike Selvey explained in a Guardian tribute.
Christopher Martin-Jenkins (CMJ) was the voice of reason in the often chaotic TMS commentary box. As the years went by, his authority grew and it’s not unreasonable to argue that he was cricket’s greatest reporter – on air and in print.
They’ll both be sadly missed.
The only time I met Tony Greig was at the World Cup in 1999 at Old Trafford when he was working for Channel 9 and I was covering the Australia v West Indies match for BBC Local Radio. That he spent as much time as he did, chatting to me, spoke volumes for the man. He could not have been more friendly.
As for Christopher Martin Jenkins, I admired his work as a writer and broadcaster before I came to know him. That was when I came to admire him as a person as well.
Tony and Christopher, in common, both had time for everyone. It is so sad to lose them. It is so right that they will be fondly remembered.
Lovely comment – thanks John.