Tony Greig: Strong, combative and a legend

Flags flew at half-mast Sunday at the Sydney Cricket Ground while officials made plans to honor former England captain and Australian television commentator Tony Greig during the third cricket test against Sri Lanka.

Greig, 66, who had been suffering from lung cancer, died of a heart attack Saturday at his Sydney home.

The South African-born Greig was also honored with a moment's silence at an Australian domestic Twenty20 match Saturday night, while Australian players were expected to wear black armbands at the SCG test beginning Thursday.

Greig, 66, who had been suffering from lung cancer, died of a heart attack Saturday at his Sydney home. Getty Images

Excerpts from what cricketers and columnists wrote about the mercurial former cricketer.

Michael Clarke: During the Sydney Test every year, he’d host a gathering for the commentators at his home and I’d try to go to as many of those as possible so I could catch up with him socially. The thing that I respected most about Tony was that he was very honest with me. He told me straight.

What an amazing story. He was born in South Africa, captained England and loved living in Australia, where many of us grew up with Tony as a central figure on the cricket coverage each summer.

CLICK HERE for the complete news.com.au article.

Richie Benaud: I think I remember correctly, in a match in the West Indies he bowled the West Indians out when he switched from bowling medium-pace to offspin. The thing that struck me most about him as a cricketer, and it runs in to the sort of guy he was in what you might term proper life, is that he was strong. He was strong in every regard. Everything he did was strong. It might not go right, but it was strong.

When it came to the court case in front of a fellow called Justice Slade (concerning World Series Cricket), Greigy said at the meeting, 'I'll be first in there and I'll be going into the witness box, as long as nobody has any objection to it'.

Ian Chappell: (Writing about the Headingley Test when the pitch was dug up and the captains had to decide whether to play or not. England, led by Greig had a better chance of winning.)

So, as the two captains, we went out and had a look at the pitch. The umpires came to us and said, "Look, we feel the nature of the pitch has been changed, that we don't believe it is fit for playing, but if either of you captains want to play, then we'll agree to it." I thought to myself, "Oh, I'm going to get left in the lurch here." (England had a good reason to play and draw the Ashes series).

But Tony immediately stepped forward and said, "I agree with you" to the umpires. "I believe the pitch is unfit for play and that the match should be called off." That was typical of Tony. He was a very combative cricketer, a very combative captain, but he wasn't about to take advantage of you in an underhand way.

CLICK HERE for the full interview with Benaud and HERE for Ian Chappell's article. Both pieces are on ESPN Cricinfo.

Angus Frazer: As well as being an outstanding all-rounder, Greig was a trailblazer. A big, brash swashbuckling cricketer who said what he thought and gave it to you straight. If you didn't like what he said, that was your problem, not his. He knew his worth, too. Behind the microphone he may not have always been politically correct, but listening to him describe the action was a magnificent experience. The combination of endless enthusiasm and a huge knowledge of the game, along with a great voice and a sense of mischief, made it a must-listen period.

CLICK HERE for the complete Independent article.

Vic MarksWhen he scored a brilliant hundred at the Gabba on the 1974-75 tour of Australia he signalled his own boundaries off Dennis Lillee. This was a provocative act, not always appreciated by his colleagues ("Please don't make him mad," pleaded Derek Underwood at the other end). My guess is that Greig's histrionics did indeed rile Lillee somewhat (actually there is not much guesswork involved here); they made Lillee bowl shorter; they made him lose control. This was brilliant theatre from Greig; it was also shrewd tactics.

CLICK HERE for the full column on The Guardian.

Greg Baum: He added swagger, even bombast, to English cricket at a time when it was desperately needed, but in a way that you suspect caused authorities there to squirm. Immensely tall and luminously blond, he was was a striking figure on the cricket field, an all-rounder brimming with bravado, anxious always to impose himself on the game.

CLICK HERE to read the full post on The Age.

 

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