Vale: Tony Grieg

December 29, 2012 at 1:16 pm 1 comment

Former England cricket captain Tony Grieg has passed away aged 66 as a result of lung cancer.

Grieg who was known to a generation of Australian cricket fans as a Channel Nine commentator known for sticking his car keys into the wicket to reveal how tough it was and for his spats with fellow commentator Australian captain Bill Lawry, was also a handy cricketer in his day. Grieg who was regarded by many as one of the great All Rounders in English County Cricket was also handy in the test match arena.

He was born in Cape Province South Africa to a Scottish immigrant father and a South African-born mother. He was  and educated at Queens College in Queenstown where many former Sussex players had been recruited to coach the cricket team. Greig’s talents were noticed and after a first-class debut for Border Province in the Currie Cup he was asked to a trial at Sussex when he was 19.

Grieg’s father has been credited as helping him decide between university or a possible career playing the game he loved. Grieg was quoted as saying, “He used to slam into me for not reading enough, for being generally immature. He would look at me sometimes and say ‘Boy, when I was your age I was fighting a war’, but in the end he grinned and said: ‘Go over to England for one year, one year mind, and see what you can do'”

Grieg took over the England captaincy from Mike Denness after a three test series against India and a further three against Pakistan that saw him average 41.5 with the bat and take 14 wickets.

After an Ashes  series at home with no tour planned he headed to Australia for the 1975-76 season to play grade cricket in Sydney, where he established contacts that he would benefit from in the future. It was then that he started commentating.

Back in England he was soon in the headlines when in the lead up to the series with the West Indies he caused more controversy by saying he would make them “grovel.” a quote now immortalised in the documentary “Fire In Babylon.”

In 1977 he captained England at the MCG in the Centenary Test but he is best remembered that year for assisting in the recruitment of top players from around the world for Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket, a role that cost him the England Captaincy, and for which he was only forgiven this year when he delivered the MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture.

Many say his reward for helping Packer set up World Series cricket was a job for live with Channel Nine, the television network he worked for up until he was diagnosed with Cancer in October.

Whether you loved him or loathed him he contributed a great deal to the World of Cricket and will be sadly missed.

One little known fact is that on his test debut against Australia in 1972 Tony Grieg took 4 wickets for 53 runs in the second innings. On his debut against Pakistan in 1982 his brother Ian took 4 wickets for 53 in the first innings. It is believed to be the only time two brothers on debut have recorded the same bowling figures. Another reason to remember him.

 

 

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Paul  |  December 30, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Nice piece Ash – A legend of cricket and commentating. Another lost to this wretched disease

    Reply

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