I've written about TMS before. The last occasion was just a couple of weeks ago, in fact.

It's been part of my life for a very, very long time. And, in truth, I've always had a bit of trouble relating to the way in which certain commentators who I haven't liked very much (Johnston back in the old days, Blofeld more recently) have been the popular face of the programme. The slightly self-conscious, often contrived, 'humourous' face. A face I could always take or leave. I always thought others were more deserving of wider recognition

I'm a little young to have really appreciated Arlott, so Christopher Martin-Jenkins was always my favourite commentator. To me there was always something timelessly reassuring and empathetic about his unfeigned humanity, his sincere love for the game and his precise, unfussy diction.

His writing never quite had the verve of his commentary. It tended to be stolid and a little bland, but his book about the 1973-74 England tour of the West Indies, Testing Time, has stood the test of time better than most. Tour books of that type - tours of that type, in fact - have gone out of fashion, but if you want a representative example of the best of the genre (not quite up there with Alan Ross's best work, but pretty damn good) you can do far worse. When he signed a copy for me back in the eighties he described it as his favourite book.

When I was in my teens and CMJ was editor of The Cricketer I sent him something I'd written about Sunil Gavaskar. He replied with a warm, encouraging letter. As the tributes paid today by the likes of Andrew Miller and Lawrence Booth show, this was far from unusual. While his commentary may have brought him wider recognition, it's clear that he regarded himself just as much as a journalist.

Ten or so years later I was on a supporters' tour of South Africa for England's first series there after re-admission. CMJ, together with many other members of the press pack, was at a reception which we attended in Port Elizabeth. My birthday was coming up, and, unknown to me, some of my compatriots were passing round a card. Vic Marks signed it, I think Jonathan Agnew signed it, and CMJ signed it. In fact, I saw him sign it without knowing what it was, and I can still remember the comment he made.

'I don't mind signing things but I'm not so keen when someone asks you for a thousand words by five o'clock.'

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