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RIP Tony Greig - Cricket Pioneer.

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Those batting gloves!If I was to place Tony Greig into a category of my sporting heroes then he would probably go into the same bracket as John McEnroe although further to the middle of the list than sitting with the firebrands at the top.

In the same way that McEnroe single handedly changed the face of tennis by forcing authorities into better decision making regarding line calls, so Greig’s legacy is his support of the Kerry Packer “circus” which aimed to take cricket out of the staid backwaters and into the mainstream of sporting current.

 

Those batting gloves!If I was to place Tony Greig into a category of my sporting heroes then he would probably go into the same bracket as John McEnroe although further to the middle of the list than sitting with the firebrands at the top.

In the same way that McEnroe single handedly changed the face of tennis by forcing authorities into better decision making regarding line calls, so Greig’s legacy is his support of the Kerry Packer “circus” which aimed to take cricket out of the staid backwaters and into the mainstream of sporting current.

Little he did he know how far ahead of his time this idea was.

I remember Greig fondly as I used to sit and watch the test match on BBC 2 with the incomparable Richie Benaud in the commentary box and out he would stride all 6’7” of him and stand at the crease with his bat raised.

With those new-fangled boxing style gloves he was as distinct a cricketing figure as you will ever see.

I was a twelve year old kid then and used to pick up the bat and stumps with my brother to go and emulate his feats in the local field.

Greig was a true pioneer of the game and also had outspoken opinions ala Boycott and he wasn’t afraid to share them with the world. Perhaps the best known of his pronunciations was before the test match series in 1976 when he vowed to make the West Indian team “grovel” in the dirt.

The fact that Greig was a South African born white and the racial connotations of the grovel word meant that the slight caused a furore among the black population, although it was never meant in a racial context.

When England left the field after being soundly beaten at the end of the series Greig was man enough to get on his knees and “grovel” his way up the steps. He was a fiery competitor but also a complete sportsman.

His record as an all- rounder for England is only bettered by Ian Botham and he was truly one of the cricket greats. His forthright vocabulary was ideal for a later career in commentary which he undertook for channel 9 down under.

Another great is sadly gone and we send all of our best wishes to his wife Vivian and four children.

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