A NATIONAL sports journalist who was known for his amusing and witty writing style, has died at the age of 71.

Martin Johnson, who lived in Ross-on-Wye, was a former cricket correspondent of The Independent, sports feature writer at the Daily Telegraph and multi-faceted writer for The Sunday Times.

He covered some of the biggest sporting events in the world and wrote several books, including Can I Carry your Bags? The Life of a Sports Hack Abroad, in 2015.

Known for his amusing and witty writing style, Mr Johnson's reports had a huge following often among those with little interest in sport.

Mr Johnson was at his best when the England cricket team toured Australia for the Ashes in 1986-87.

He produced perhaps his best-known quote, that there were only three things wrong with the English team: “They can’t bat, they can’t bowl and they can’t field.”

Of course, England went on to defeat the Aussies soundly.

Mr Johnson's ability to make friends among the personalities he wrote about led his editors to direct him towards his own style of feature writing, which he accomplished with his humour.

He penned what he wanted and was merciless in his put-downs – and fearless with it.

After leaving Monmouth School he started in journalism at the South Wales Argus.

He then moved on to the The Leicester Mercury where he spent the next 11 years, writing a popular column on Ray Illingworth’s Leicestershire cricket side and covering Leicester Tigers, along with other sporting events.

Leicester became home for most of his working life.

After joining the newly-created The Independent, and later the Daily Telegraph, his career centred around global sporting events such as Formula One in Kuala Lumpur and cricket and tennis in Australia. Affectionately nicknamed Scoop, he was a brilliant writer who made readers laugh out loud.

Mr Johnson maintained his passion for playing golf and died on Saturday, March 13, after a long illness.