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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid and Dependable
I start by declaring that I am a fan of CMJ. It was a very sad start to 2013 to learn of his death from cancer. His gentle, amiable style, his love of his family and the game of cricket are all features of this book which now stands as a memory of the man.

My overriding impression of CMJ from this book is of a thoroughly decent man. It is easy in the modern era...
Published on 11 Jun. 2012 by NorfolkBooks

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing
I was a great admirer of CMJ as a test match special commentator: far superior to some that are remembered today as "legends of broadcasting". He gave a straightforward explaination of what was going on and why, had a very good understanding of cricket, and the issues confronting it. His newspaper articles that I read (a small fraction of his output) had the same...
Published 3 months ago by Anonscot


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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid and Dependable, 11 Jun. 2012
By 
NorfolkBooks "Norfolk Reviewer" (Norfolk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: CMJ: A Cricketing Life (Hardcover)
I start by declaring that I am a fan of CMJ. It was a very sad start to 2013 to learn of his death from cancer. His gentle, amiable style, his love of his family and the game of cricket are all features of this book which now stands as a memory of the man.

My overriding impression of CMJ from this book is of a thoroughly decent man. It is easy in the modern era to deride some of the qualities he espouses but I share his view on matters such as the importance of grammar.

I also found myself agreeing with many of his observations about broadcasting and I echo his sentiments that the surrender of BBC Radio Sport to the god of Premiership Football is very sad. It always seemed to me that information about live sport (like the latest cricket scores - but it could equally apply to tennis or golf or horse racing) should be given prominence ahead of the fact that a football player will miss a forthcoming game because of some minor injury. The intrusion of the "expert summariser" into commentary often makes it like listening to two people having a chat - and the number of times this results in the commentator having to interrupt to tell us that he just failed to describe a goal to us is astonishing. And so with cricket. Summarisers used to proffer their opinion at the end of each over and leave the commentator to paint the picture. Whilst I would not suggest, especially in an era of fewer overs per day, a return to such an approach a greater degree of restraint from the expert would be welcome.

CMJ laments the decline in the reporting of the County Game. So do I - but there is a faint glimmer of hope on the horizon. The use of the additional BBC Channel Five Live Sports Extra seems to have increased and I was able recently to spend a car journey listening to a decent commentary on Somerset v Durham.

The art of the short report is also under threat. I did a spell of about five years of freelance cricket reporting for the BBC. My producer (also a freelance) gave me a simple brief for the 30 or 60 second reports which were a staple diet of the station's coverage. It's simple he said. Score In, sum up highlights since last report, any special highlights for new listeners and score out. So upon receiving cue the ideal was to say "Yorkshire are now 100 for 3 off 24 overs in reply to Kent's 256 all out". In fact one learned that the cross over to the ground didn't always work smoothly so it was best to insert a few words which didn't matter if they were lost in the ether. So "Welcome back to sunny Headingly where Yorkshire are ..." was the best technique. And then when you've finished describing the latest action hand back with the score so that listeners who missed it at the beginning now have it. I have lost count of the number of times I have shouted (useless I know) at a reporter who launches into a description of the two wickets which have fallen in the last half hour but doesn't tell me the score. Just tell me the score! I can probably work out as well as the reporter what it means in the context of the game.

But I digress. The book is an enjoyable dip into a long career including some interesting insights into the behind the scenes activity in both BBC radio and major newspapers. Both have their share of backbiting and unpleasant characters. There are also brief vignettes about the various countries in the world that CMJ has visited to watch and report upon cricket. But the thing which comes across most strongly in this book is his devotion to his wife and family and his fatherly pride in the achievements of his children.

So it's a decent book by a thoroughly decent chap.

I was tempted to downgrade my rating to three stars because of some appalling proof reading errors. I may be wrong about this but I get the impression that the book may have been dictated perhaps due to the illness. But I can't believe that a man of the erudition of CMJ would spell comatose as comitose (p246) or write "but I strong mind" rather than "a strong mind" (p340). There are at least three other similar howlers. As I say I can readily forgive CMJ for this if it is a consequence of his illness but the publishers have no excuse - and even without employing a proof reader a basic spell check on the manuscript would have picked up comitose immediately.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, 2 Dec. 2014
This review is from: CMJ: A Cricketing Life (Hardcover)
I was a great admirer of CMJ as a test match special commentator: far superior to some that are remembered today as "legends of broadcasting". He gave a straightforward explaination of what was going on and why, had a very good understanding of cricket, and the issues confronting it. His newspaper articles that I read (a small fraction of his output) had the same qualiities.

That said, this is not a very good book. It reads like a memoir for family and friends rather than a serious attempt to address English cricket over the past four decades within the framework of his own career. It is, to put it bluntly, very boring in many places and, given the content, far too long. I contunually found myself reading the first line of a paragraph and then immediately going to the next paragraph to see if it was any more interesting. A serious editor might have helped (none is acknowledged). It is incredible to me that someone with CMJ's list of jobs and connections could not have come up with something more incisive and interesting. However, whether CMJ ran out of time is unclear.

There are numerous errors that proper editing would have found: the one that hit me between the eyes (p82 paperback) was that he has Vorster as the South African PM who was assassinated. It was of course Verwoerd. Dates are wrong, facts misplaced far too often.

Having paid £1 in a charity shop, I am just moderately miffed. But, this could perhaps have been a very good book with a different approach. It is a sad way for CMJ to leave us.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant and decent autobiography, 19 July 2013
By 
Mr. Stephen Edwards "se1955" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: CMJ: A Cricketing Life (Kindle Edition)
A pleasant and decent autobiography, by a pleasant and decent man.

I guess that this could be the last story of the old school non-playing commentator. CMJ must be the last of the EW Swanton graduates, and although there is none of his mentor's nasty snobbery, this is still the tale of a privileged upbringing morphing into a privileged career at the BBC and the quality newspapers. However, CMJ is so decent that you cannot begrudge his comfortable life.

This is a gentle book, and any barbs thrown are also gentle, and sometimes more telling as a result. It is also a wise book, a little old fashioned but usually acute. The last paragraph is telling and sad.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CMJ, 29 July 2013
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This review is from: CMJ: A Cricketing Life (Hardcover)
A real gentleman. I wish they made them like CMJ still.. Recommend for cricket lovers of all ages. RIP CMJ....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Such A Lovely Man, 18 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: CMJ: A Cricketing Life (Kindle Edition)
This book confirms what we all know - the world and the world of cricket has lost a true gentleman.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book., 16 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: CMJ: A Cricketing Life (Kindle Edition)
Excellent. May he rest in peace. A man who brought the pleasure of cricket to many as a part of test match special.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A real gentleman, 28 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: CMJ: A Cricketing Life (Kindle Edition)
A very honest autobiography with a different slant to the game; well written and very interesting; I would have loved to spend an hour in conversation with him.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great fireside read, 16 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: CMJ: A Cricketing Life (Kindle Edition)
Just the read for a cold winter's night.It is very readable and the aythor certainly understands schoolboy cricketers.One could be in the seat beside him.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Pedestrian, 28 Feb. 2014
This review is from: CMJ: A Cricketing Life (Paperback)
I worked my way through this autobiography but it felt like a chore rather than a pleasure. Sadly, I found the book to be... well, rather dull I'm afraid. There was far too much discussion of little-known editors and reporters from national newspapers and obscure cricketing publications which will go over the heads of most readers. I only felt that his story got going during the middle chapters of the book when he described his overseas trips. These were fleeting moments of connection and interest, I'm sorry to report. There are also a few silly factual errors. For example, on page 3 of the paperback edition, CMJ has Steve Harmison bowling the West Indies out in Jamaica in 1994. An editor or proof-reader with even a little knowledge of cricket would have surely picked up on that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Summer won't be the same without C M J., 10 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: CMJ: A Cricketing Life (Paperback)
Strange to say I found this a bit flat. I was expecting more in the style of his journalism , which I really liked.
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