There has never been another cricketing story like Tony Greig’s and there never will.

There will never be another. We'll miss ya, Tony

The son of a Scottish migrant was a South African-born, England-finessed, Australian-residing citizen of the world, a Test captain who loved stirring the pot, a revolutionary who fought the establishment, losing some battles but spectacularly winning others.

At times throughout his colourful life all of nations mentioned above claimed and cursed him but that was the essential flavour of his story as a man who followed in no other man’s steps.

In an attempt to intimidate rivals Greig would stand within breathing distance of the batsman and make subtle jibes, making the term silly point as suitable for what he was saying as where he was standing.

He would bait crowds when few of his generation would never have been so bold and found verbal combat stimulating.

In some ways his trademarks - such as the windmill swings of the bat when he came to the crease - were unforgettable, in other ways the footprints he left on cricket have been underplayed.

He was among the first to wear motorcyle helmets for protection, to stand upright in his batting stance and to slice fast men deliberately over slips… a trailblazer in every sense.

Later in life, with Channel Nine, the playful side of his personality shone through as a commentator who enjoyed playing the contrarian, the man in black.

The cricket world, though hearing Greig as a commentator for more than three decades with the Nine network, never really heard the best of him.

His finest work was done as perhaps the best dinner company in cricket, a man whose colourful stories ranged from tales of Bradman to Tendulkar, from Shane Warne’s brilliance to Muttiah Muralidaran’s family biscuit factory in Sri Lanka, to Kerry Packer’s private world.

Some of his greatest battles were ones kept mostly away from public view such as his battle with epilepsy which once saw him collapse at Heathrow Airport after the return of the 1975 Australian tour.

As an allrounder Greig was no Sir Garfield Sobers but certainly he was in one of next drawers down.

He was dynamic and, like Sobers, a master of versatility. His Test record of 3599 runs at 40.4 and 141 wickets at 32.2 in 58 Tests may not make the jaw drop but he was robust competitive force in everything he did.

As a player he carried himself like a man who had the key to every lock; his body language radiated the vibe “just watch this’’ and he often got wickets through the force of his personality.

Greig arrived in England from South Africa having played just one first class match but such was his exceptional talent he reached 1000 Test runs in just his 14th Test and won Test matches bowling medium pace on some occasions and off-spin on others.

No lesser judge than keeping icon Alan Knott rating Greig’s - at his peak - the best off-spinner in the world.

Sometimes Greig’s combative nature got the better of him and he lived to regret a throwaway line made against the West Indies in England in 1977 when he said he intended to “make them grovel.’‘

With their sensitivities over the region’s slave ancestry raging, the West Indies never forgave or forgot.

After one dismissal of Greig in that series Viv Richards said: “Who wouldn’t want to maybe have one-up on your colonial masters at some point? ... I just wanted to send that message we are all equal. It’s pretty simple.”

Greig will almost be remembered for his role in quitting English cricket to help Kerry Packer organise the World Series Cricket circus in the late 1970s.

No other cricketer in World Series was closer to Packer than Greig; their mutual admiration knew no bounds.

One theory has it that Packer and Greig gained their rebellious streak from having domineering fathers who they could never please.

Greig’s once said his father was “exceptionally critical of every move I made” while Packer could never recall his father praising him to his face.
Greig was given a brutal working over from the English public and media but his final decision to join Packer was made when he felt shattered by a snub to his daughter.

“I went to pick up my daughter, Samantha, from school,” he recalls. “Her best friend had a party the next day. The mother was handing out invitations and my daughter didn’t get one. The mother looked at me and said she’s not getting one.

“I was gobsmacked. That caused me to phone up and tell Kerry ‘I’m out of here’. Within three days, we were out of England.”

Greig had cricketing life like no other. It’s hard to know where he fits best in his history but one thing is sure - history will never forget him.

Comments on this post will close at 6pm AEDST.

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40 comments

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    • Ol'Wobbly says:

      06:39am | 30/12/12

      As an Aussie supporter who fondly remembers the days in the late 60s and 70s when England was strong and Australia on the ascendancy, Greigy was one of those pommie cricketers I used to fear and hate. Then, when he started his commentating career, his accent grated like no other. But now that he’s gone I’ll miss his dulcet tones, his sparring with Bill Lawry, and of course his car key! Vale, Greigy.

    • yeah-no says:

      07:58am | 30/12/12

      Hopefully, the old brigade of commentators like Lawry will take this as their cue to retire, and it might be safe to watch cricket on TV again without the volume muted.

    • Carol says:

      03:20pm | 30/12/12

      Tony was a good cricketer, a good commentator and no doubt a good man. But come on, he did what he did for a dollar, it was his job.
      All this mush is just that, mush, how many of those who have posted here ever met the man?

    • Bruce says:

      04:31pm | 30/12/12

      What made me admire Tony Greig was that he managed epileptic seizures when playing cricket at the highest levels. It was not unusual for him to quietly go off the field of play with as little disruption to the game. Not only a great cricketer, he was also a very brave man who gave much more than he received.

    • Schmavo says:

      06:39am | 30/12/12

      So many people with nice things to say and so many comments pages not working. I worked in the service industry in the 80s and this guy was a real prick. I’ll certainly never forget him.

    • Get over it says:

      07:56am | 30/12/12

      Sour grapes since the 80’s. Sounds like fun.

    • Eric #2 says:

      08:47am | 30/12/12

      Given the huge number of comments that have nothing but positive praise for Tony Grieg suggests to me that your view of him being a ‘prick’ tells me more about you than it does about Greig.

    • james says:

      11:01am | 30/12/12

      I had a few experiences with him in business and he was OK. Look in the mirror.

    • Chris says:

      11:33am | 30/12/12

      Perhaps you missed most of last nights news Eric #2 where everyone (Chappell, Lawry, Nicholls, Taylor) said he was aggressive and argumentative if you ever dared to disagree with him.  Sounds like Schmavo might have run into him, whereas you, did not.

    • Gaz says:

      06:40am | 30/12/12

      Yeah well said Crash. Vale Tony Greig. I think he became famous with my generation through Billy Birmingham. While at high school in the mid 90s the halls were often filled with Tony Greig take offs

    • I. Chappell says:

      09:12am | 30/12/12

      That’s so true. I remember blokes going to their lockers saying ‘yeeeers have you got the keeeys’

    • Tator says:

      09:41am | 30/12/12

      The old Bill and Tony niggling aggro act was one of the best lines from the Twelfth Man.
      Lets just hope he didn’t leave his keys in a pitch somewhere before he shuffled of this mortal coil

    • Ol'Wobbly says:

      01:16pm | 30/12/12

      “And in comes Lillee, and bowls and OH DEAR, he’s hit him in the groin ...”

    • sunny says:

      07:13am | 30/12/12

      Ground staff around the country will miss him the most - he always gave praise where it was due for a particularly tricky little square metre section of pitch that was miraculously repaired only the day before by the heroic ground staff who he’d then go on to name. They and their families must have been chuffed to get a mention on TV. Or maybe they just wanted him to bugger off and stop digging his car keys into it.

    • PW says:

      07:28am | 30/12/12

      I know the man has just passed on, but “heart and soul of Aussie cricket”? Nonetheless it’s a pretty good obituary. He was never any kind of world beater on the field with bat or ball, but was a very useful captain and as a commentator understood the game extremely well. He’ll be most remembered for his pre-game pitch antics using a door key.

      It is his career as a commentator, in the end, that earns him sufficient fame to warrant an article in The Punch. It’s hard to imagine someone like an Atherton, Brearley, Denness or Gatting (Mikes and England captains all) getting a similar guernsey.

    • Steve Putnam says:

      09:49am | 30/12/12

      @ PW “He was never any kind of world beater on the field with bat or ball” His stats are quoted above (87 catches also) so where do you get that idea? Look at the bowlers he faced; Lillee, Thompson, Roberts, Holding, Imran, Hadlee, Prasanna, Bedi, Chandrasekhar, Venkataraghavan; and the batsmen he bowled to: Chappells I & G, Walters, Redpath, Sobers, Khanhai, Lloyd, Richards, Gavaskar, Vengsarkar, Majid, Zaheer, Turner, Howarth - says a lot more about him than bald statistics.
      Is there another all-rounder of the seventies with better figures than these?

    • TChong says:

      07:51am | 30/12/12

      Sad.
      TG was part of the Ozzie summer, and will be missed.

    • Miles says:

      08:06am | 30/12/12

      As as kid, Grieg’s commentary would drive my parents to crazy town, but it was always tempered because they knew he was a talent on and off the pitch.

      A sad day for Aussie sport, not just cricket. The tributes from Packer Jnr, Gilly and Gyngell are some of the standouts for so many praising Grieg in his death.

      The “Bill and Tony niggling thing” was probably over with the discovery of his cancer but it was nice to hope. Turns out the heart that pumped through all 6Ft 6 Inches of the legend failed him first.

      Goodnight to the man who was a voice of my summer and who helped give me so much fun at one day matches through his work with World Series Cricket.

    • John says:

      08:16am | 30/12/12

      It was in 1976, not 1977, that Greig said he wanted to make the West Indies grovel. Viv Richards and Michael Holding slaughtered England in that series.


      Packer sure did love Greig. He even made him CEO of an insurance company he owned, Lion Insurance. Tony Grieg knew nothing about insurance and nothing about running a business, much less a complex and large business. Greig was completely unsuited and unqualified for the role. But such was his self confidence he took it on anyway. He didn’t last long.

    • Gregg says:

      08:21am | 30/12/12

      Greigy as he has been oft to referred to and perhaps used most by fellow commentators like Chappelli and Heals was a handy enough cricketer, certainly given his height for the handiest are often in a much smaller frame.
      He has also had an interesting background with the WSC and media work and many cricket fans might miss him a tad even though there were more than a few times we would have wished him to have gone missing.

      ” heart and the soul of Aussie cricket ” ? , not so much Robert for that is a mantle when it exists that ought to apply to various Australian cricketers throughout the decades, a few no doubt who would still have respect for Greigy as a competitive kind of guy.

    • Dave Lazzari says:

      09:17am | 30/12/12

      Always liked Greig as a cricketer - a class all-rounder, good offie, very effective medium pacer with his height and ability to cut the ball; excellent fielder, feather-ruffler and a quality captain. At all levels of cricket he was good - as you say not top of the shelf, like Sobers or Botham but better than many of the followers.
      Really admired him for his leadership in dragging cricket from the MCC barons and getting rid of the feudal salary system. He allowed cricketers to make a decent living from their skills. Wasn’t so keen on the Ch9 stuff, mainly because I still regard radio commentary as the pinnacle of sporting commentary. But how you argue against his influence when if anyone shouts “marvellous!” in a dodgy Sarth Efrican accent you’ll know who they’re supposed to be? Billy Bermingham or Tony Greig? Does it matter?
      Regret never hearing him as a speaker.
      He made a real difference to the sport in a good, positive way.
      Few can say that.

    • BrianB says:

      09:38am | 30/12/12

      Bit harsh with the “never any kind of a world beater” comment P W.

      The English considered Greig one of their best ever all rounders, with his ability to bat and bowl both medium pace and off spin. I saw him play and he could certainly take the long handle to any loose bowling.

    • Bear says:

      10:25am | 30/12/12

      And anyone who’s good enough to play for their country has to be pretty damn exceptional. We’ve all played in the back yard and if Greig was average then we monumentally suck.He would have tonked your average hides out of the park.

    • PW says:

      10:40am | 30/12/12

      The batting and bowling averages quoted in this article suggest he was not only a rung or three below Sobers (and more recently Kallis), but likewise inferior to Botham, Kapil Dev and Imran. Still, he deserved to be a Test player, and was a good captain.

    • shakazulu says:

      11:18am | 30/12/12

      He would never have made the then SA side and knew it. He was regarded as a good allround cricketer but unfortunately for him he was way down the line. When he played for Eastern Province 70/71(a weak Province) the top all rounders in SA were the likes of Proctor,Lance,Barlow and Goddard was ending a great career with Rice just beginning his etc And everyone knew the boycot was imminent. So good luck to him for his decision to go and play for England.As a result cricket benfited enormously from his strong leadership which helped change the game for the better.He deserves great respect from all cricket fans and players alike.

    • stephen says:

      12:09pm | 30/12/12

      Yeah he was especially good at hitting wides - his arms must have been 6 foot long.
      ‘Yoongsters’ was his favourite saying :
      The cracks in the pitch was not good for yoongsters because Kim Hughes, their hero, was best on the front foot, and a looser ball would put him on the back, and out.
      (Back then, I was 23, and had to agree.)

      I heard Thommo say that he - Greig - may not have liked this country, and I can say unequivocally, I and everyone else I know who thinks at least 25% of our waking time, that we don’t like this country sometimes either.
      So what ?
      Tony lived here and he could have made a good living anywhere else cricket is played.
      But he stayed here and the commentary box was good for the stayin’.
      And in the box, he always knew where the ball was, (in this sense, I’ll bet he was Mark Taylor’s mentor) ; I only wanted to hear him, with that accent, just once, say ‘yorker’

    • nihonin says:

      05:15pm | 30/12/12

      Bear +1

    • Martin H says:

      09:55am | 30/12/12

      Yes, it is sad, but I was more upset by the news about Mister Cricket.

    • stephen says:

      12:30pm | 30/12/12

      You mean Greg Chapell ?

      That’s what too much talent can get you : a gig on Australian Story.

    • Mattb says:

      09:57am | 30/12/12

      Don’t know about your “heart and soul of Australian cricket” call. That’s going a bit far. He was definately one of those commentators that left an impression on all that watched the cricket though. I remember as a primary school kid the Tony Greig impersonations of the Rexona weather watch and pitch reports, then later on in high school the Billy Bermingham impersonations of Greig, Richie, Bill etc repeated by school students with grinning faces.

      Cricket is a massive part of growing up for a lot of kids in Australia and these blokes commentating the game have a huge influence on shaping that. These days I’d rather tune in to grandstand on ABC and listen to The Skull and the boys but still enjoy Nine’s coverage every now and then. Tony’s voice definitely has been missed this summer, the Nine commentary team interviewed him during the first test the day before he went into surgery and all wished he was commentating with them instead, those guys will be shattered right now. The next Test in Sydney is going to become a celebration of the life and times of Tony Greig.

      RIP Tony.

    • Butu, bring my gun says:

      10:09am | 30/12/12

      My fondest memory of Mr Greig is that he started up the memorabilia business that channel nine constantly pushes and has thus ripped off thousands of bogans with worthless rubbish.

      Vale Mr Greig.

    • rotor says:

      12:19pm | 30/12/12

      Best comment on the subject.

    • stephen says:

      12:19pm | 30/12/12

      I’m one of those bogans, though I don’t keep it at my place.
      (Suddenly, I just thought of Butu, his head over the fireplace.)

    • Gareth says:

      10:17am | 30/12/12

      I was worried when I logged on this morning that Sharwood would have a piece up about Greig. Thank goodness someone who knows something about sport and doesn’t attempt humour got the gig.

    • NikRaf of Victoria says:

      10:58am | 30/12/12

      “Tony Greig was the heart and the soul of Aussie cricket”

      what BS

    • Bex says:

      01:02pm | 30/12/12

      Exactly!  We know how the media love a beat up.

      He was the enemy and then became that grossly annoying commentator who should never had the job.  Only to be replaced by Slater, who makes Fatty Vautin look like he has talent.

    • james says:

      02:11pm | 30/12/12

      And a South African at that!! Total BS but I doubt that Craddock wrote the headline but he certainly went overboard.

    • NikRaf of Victoria says:

      03:32pm | 30/12/12

      he could never say if a person was out until he had seen the replay slowed down 5 times or more and then bagged the umpires for the reset of the game

    • Michael R says:

      02:49pm | 30/12/12

      4 for 44. Legend. We’ll miss his voice for sure.

    • Richard M says:

      04:08pm | 30/12/12

      My mother said if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything, so….........

 

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