Sunday, December 30, 2012

RIP TONY GREIG

Antony William Greig  was not the colossus that bestrode cricket of say Tendulkar, Bradman et al but as a dominating influence in the latter half of the 20th century world of cricket, Tony, "Greigy" was right up there.

Born in the apartheid  Republic of South Africa with a qualifying UK ancestor the young Tony took up an opportunity to trial for Sussex County, where growing success led to the England team and ultimately its captain.

Always the innovator and with his ultra competitive streak he caused more than his share of upsets in the staid olde world dominated by the always quaintly eccentric Marylebone Cricket Club.  England only played "tests" touring teams were MCC teams. This was a world that still included the annual Gentlemen Vs Players game where the paid who could never captain an MCC team played the Amateur Gentlemen.
One of his "moments" occurred when at close of play in a test in the West Indies Alvin Kallicharan left his crease before the Ump called stumps and Greig threw down his wicket, appealed and in a near riot outcome the batsman was adjudged, correctly, as out.
By next day Kallicharan was reinstated after the England Captain "withdrew" the appeal and went on to make 150.

Hard but fair, over  6'6" with a shock of blonde hair, Greigy scored over 3500 test runs and was a very useful medium bowler who added Off spin to his repertoire, taking enough wickets to be regarded as a true allrounder.

When Kerry Packer made his move to bring cricket, kicking and screaming into the modern professional era, Tony Greig was one of his main lieutenants, he was the difference and like it or not something had to give as five day test cricket is not the global marketing opportunity mass audiences and TV in particular need to be viable, outside of the UK, Australia and India.

Following the Packer  revolution Tony Greig became an integral part of the Channel 9  Commentary team and with his very distinctive SA accent and a deep understanding of the game in all its facets.

Diagnosed with Lung Cancer last October his brief illness removed what had become part of the public face of the game throughout the world. From a niche as a trailblazer "mercenary" of cricket foreswearing his birth nation to rise to the top in the UK world of red and yellow striped ties at Lords, Tony Greig leaves a rather large hole in the true global game with his death from cardiac arrest in his adopted land, Australia.

RIP Tony Greig, the world of cricket was made richer by your presence

5 comments:

alwyn said...

I think this is a very fine tribute to Greig. He was a great player and an interesting commentator.
It is a minor point but I think you have slightly exaggerated the Amateur control of cricket in Greig's day. This tribute implies that the amateur captain and the Gentlemen vs Players match were still going when Greig started playing in England.
Len Hutton captained the MCC as a professional from 1952 to 1955. Greig would have been 5 at the start of that period.
The last Gentlemen vs Players match was in 1962 when Greig would have been 15.
These are only trivial objections to what is a fine tribute.

Tinman said...

It was in Australia that Greig led the transformation of the game, dragging the game kicking and screaming into the 20th century and ensuring that (mainly) Oz test players were paid what they were worth. All other players also benefited.

I was never a Greig fan, neither as a player nor a commentator but I must agree, his influence was great for the game commercially although I'm not completely sure that cricket today is better than it was when, pre-Greig, it was played by gentlemen (and Ockers) in a gentlemanly way.

I liked batsmen walking when they hit the ball, fielding teams actually getting batsmen out rather than using some obscure rule (Kalicheran) to appeal for the wicket and players treating each other as honest men.

As a commentator Greig made me swear at the television as often as I marvelled at the comments made and the skill on display.

So, not a fan but the cricket world, indeed the world, is poorer for his passing.

RIP Tony Greig.

Anonymous said...

Met Tony At North Point Tavern in 1992. He was blind drunk sitting there with a pool que in his hands. I asked him if he'd mind if me and my mate played a game and he snorted that I'd have to play him for the table. This was done and I wipped his arse. He stormed out ranting that he'd be back and I'd better have $500 to play him for when he did get back. He never turned up(thankfull because I didn't have $500 on me).. Not a good impression of the man... ie he was a wanker.

Anonymous said...

Tony Greig was born in the Union of South Africa, not the Republic as that only came about in 1961, and prior to the apartheid policies of the National Party government. If you want to include politics in your blog get your facts correct.

Anonymous said...

Cricket is boring shit.