Death is sombre, death is solemn, death is sorrowful. Yet, if it comes at the end of enjoying one’s time on earth to the hilt, soaking in the essence of what one is fascinated by, even a notice of death can read very much like the celebration of life.
Such is the case of Ted Corbett. It was a life worth living and then some more.
Corbett had just retired a year and a half earlier. After reaching the age of 80. For many years, he had been a cricket correspondent for the Daily Star and before that for the Daily Herald, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Express.
After that, in 1989, helped by ‘some good friends and a generous pension plan’, Corbett and his long-time partner Joanne King set up a freelance sports reporting agency. He later wrote for the Indian newspaper The Hindu and its sporting periodical Sportstar for a whopping 25 years.
It was only after he had reached the age of 80 that Corbett was told that his services were not required by these Indian publications. The senior pro did not mind. “I had tried to quit seven years earlier,” he said in his retirement speech to the Sports Journalist Association.
Apart from cricket, Corbett also reported on rugby, football, snooker, golf and athletics.
It was a fascinating life, lived and enjoyed in and around sports. Corbett reported from the outback in Australia, once on the back of a swaying and bouncing bus in a dangerous South African township, and on another memorable occasion with rainwater lapping round his knees during a thunderstorm in Zimbabwe.
And while reporting cricket, he enjoyed his time to the fullest in other ways as well. As he said on the occasion of his final retirement, “We had a wonderful time, viewing the wildlife in all 10 of the cricket-playing countries, making friends and never missing a day’s work through illness.”
Corbett had actually enjoyed the prospect of a retired life. “Now it is time to slip on the fireside slippers and watch the cricket on the telly. I followed England for 300 Tests and 500 one-day internationals and, like Fred Trueman, I am bloody tired after all the effort.I followed England for 300 Tests and 500 ODIs and, like Fred Trueman, I am bloody tired after all the effort.”
Corbett also wrote a novel and not surprisingly it was cricket-linked. Titled The Great Cricket Betting Scandal, it was published in 2000 and, in spite of its name, did not deal with the murky betting fiascos of the modern day. It was a brave attempt, but the book was not very successful.
Additionally, Corbett was the author of a number of books on cricket, including Cricket on the Run: 25 Years of Conflict and the Wisden Book of Test Captains. The last named was co-authored with partner Joanne King.
Perhaps the most fascinating fact of Corbett’s career is that it started out as a tea boy on the staff of Yorkshire Evening Press in 1951.
This was followed by military service during which he edited the forces newspaper, Japan News, in Tokyo.
Yes, it was a long, fulfilling, rich and varied life.