New Delhi: He would love his father to write about him. When a glorious opportunity came their way, his father, a celebrity among cricket writers of the world, chose not to even mention his son’s name.
The father, referring to his son, wrote, “that all-rounder with a long name scored a fifty.”
Robin Simon Christopher Martin-Jenkins was 19 then. At 34, the 6’2” friendly cricketer reflects on those days with a smile and affords a hearty laugh too a few times. “I am proud of my father,” his grateful eyes convey the warmth.
It must be a rare dilemma for a father. Christopher Martin-Jenkins, MBE, a Test match special commentator and former cricket writer for the Times, happened to report a few matches featuring Robin, a medium-pacer with 175 first-class matches experience for Sussex (6819 runs with a best of 203 not out and 354 wickets with a best of seven for 51). His objectivity and loyalty to his vocation meant the senior Martin-Jenkins handing over the mike to his partner once the junior came into the picture.
“He did commentate a few times but would quickly vacate his position behind the mike,” recalled Robin, here to play the Champions League Twenty20.
It has been a wonderful journey for Robin, growing up in a prominent cricket environment. Robin was just three when his father ’thrust’ a bat into the lad’s hands.
“I could barely walk but cricket became a way of life,” remembered Robin. “My father encouraged me a lot; in a gentle way as a father would. He never pushed me and let me do my thing.”
His brother, James, was given the freedom to choose his career. He is a barrister.
Cricket was never a burden for Robin. “I have enjoyed cricket. I have been playing for 15 seasons now with no regrets. It has been good fun. My father never put any pressure. He never got carried away. I know what pressure means. Liam (Botham) felt it and went off to rugby. My father watched my cricket with great interest but remained realistic.”
Robin concedes his father has been a huge influence. “He was so well known I the journalistic circles. He has always been my adviser. He has had a big part in my life. It is always great to be chatting cricket with him.” Martin Jenkins watches his son’s matches when he can. “He travels around the world. He does give a bit of advice now and then.”
Robin rates his father’s cricket reading high. “I don’t talk too much when we discuss cricket. My father has made my game better than many of my coaches in improving the technical and mental aspects. After all, he watches the best of cricket all over the world!”
The father believes in his son’s abilities. The son backs himself. There are shades of Robin following in his illustrious father’s footsteps. He writes a regular cricket column in a prominent monthly. “I do read a lot of cricket. I am passionate about reading.” He recently finished Vikram Seth’s ‘A Suitable Boy’. Robin rarely misses his father’s cricket dispatches. Has he ever disagreed with his father’s writing? “Never,” is his firm reply.
If only Christopher Martin-Jenkins could write more on that all-rounder with a long name!