Few sports receive cricket's diligent following, and almost none foster as much artful, individualistic coverage. From the times of Cardus and James to present-day, colourful sub-continental reiterations, the game has always been blessed with distinct voices. Two sets of such legendary vocal chords were silenced this past week with the demises of Tony Greig and Christopher Martin-Jenkins. Rob Bagchi of The Observer writes on The Guardian's Blog on how these "adopted sons of Sussex" imbued live coverage with their own distinct styles, and why the sport is the lesser after their exit.
They spoke of decency, integrity, warmth and courage but above all of a talent for communication – in CMJ's case of his enthusiasm, courtesy, erudition and usually deadpan, playful wit, in Greig's of drama, charismatic good cheer and a rather extravagant excitement that always appeared to be genuine. He threw himself into everything – from attempting to rally tired and morose England supporters on the first evening of the opening Ashes Test on the 1994-95 tour to extolling the beauty of Sri Lankan beaches and hawking official memorabilia on Channel 9 – with such wholehearted conviction that he should have usurped Norman Vincent Peale as the guru of positive thinking.
The new style would make the task faced by Private Eye's teenage bard EJ Thribb, master of the pithy if impassive epitaph, straightforward for Greig who had a stockpile of catchphrases, most of them mundane unless delivered with his infectious ebullience. "Goodnight, Charlie", of course, but also "oh boy, what a blinder", "these little Sri Lankans", "right in the blockhole" and his Eastern Cape Province pronunciation of mid-off as "mid-orrff", "grass" as "grorse", "fast" as "forst" and the depiction of the havoc wreaked by a big hitter that particularly sparkles in Billy Birmingham's 12th Man parody "causing carnage in the car park" as "corsing cornidge in the cor pork".