Tributes paid as former England captain Tony Greig dies, aged 66

 

Tributes were this morning pouring in for former England captain and television commentator Tony Greig, who died today at the age of 66.

Having been diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year, reports in Australia today indicated Greig suffered a heart attack at his home in Sydney and died around 13.45pm local time.

"He was rushed into St Vincent's hospital. The staff of the emergency department worked on Mr Greig to no avail," St Vincent's spokesman David Faktor was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.

A statement from Australian television network Channel Nine, for whom he had commentated for the last 33 years, read: "Beloved Tony Greig, former England cricket captain, has passed away today at the age of 66.

"Initially diagnosed with bronchitis in May, the condition lingered and testing revealed he had lung cancer.

"Tony Greig is a name synonymous with Australian cricket - from his playing days as the English captain we loved to hate, to his senior role in the revolution of World Series Cricket, his infamous car keys in the pitch reports and more than three decades of colourful and expert commentary.

"To his family and friends we pass on our best wishes."

Australia captain Michael Clarke was among the first to express his sadness at Greig's death.

He said on www.cricket.com.au "I was only speaking with Tony a couple of days ago so news of his passing is absolutely devastating.

"Tony has a long and decorated history with international cricket both as a player and commentator and cricket will be much poorer for his loss.

"Personally, he has also been a great mentor for me, providing great advice through the good times and the bad.

"The news will hit the cricket community hard, but we will never forget the lasting legacy Tony leaves us with.

"On behalf of the Australian cricket team our thoughts, prayers and wishes are with Greig family at this difficult time."

Greig first became aware he had a problem in Dubai during Australia's one-day series against Pakistan, on which he was commentating, in August and September.

Initially diagnosed with bronchitis in May, the condition lingered and, by the time of the ICC World Twenty20 - which finished in Sri Lanka in October - tests that revealed a small lesion at the base of his right lung.

On his return to Australia, he had fluid removed from the right lung. Testing revealed he had lung cancer.

CA chairman Wally Edwards said: "On behalf of Australian cricket, I offer condolences to Tony's family, friends and fans and admirers."

"He was a combative on-field rival of Australian cricket but became one of Australian cricket's firmest friends, with his long-running role as a Channel Nine commentator making him an Australian household name.

"Tony stood out as a player and captain, as an influential part of the Kerry Packer World Series Cricket era and then for decades as a familiar voice in millions of Australian living rooms each summer as part of the Nine telecast which revolutionised the TV presentation of cricket.

"His illness and too-early death comes as a terrible shock - he will be greatly missed."

Greig, a right-handed middle-order batsman and medium-fast seamer, made his Test debut for England against Australia in 1972 and scored 3,599 Test runs, including eight centuries, and took 141 wickets.

He replaced Mike Denness as England captain in the summer of 1975 and led the national team from 1975-77 before defecting to be one of the spearheads of Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket.

England all-rounder Luke Wright posted: "Gutted to hear that Tony Greig has passed away. A legend on and off the field. Our thoughts are with his family and friends £RIPGreigy."

Channel Nine chief executive David Gyngell said in a statement: "It's a deeply upsetting time for his family and for everyone associated with Tony at Nine, and indeed for many, many others who came to know and love the man.

"He's not only been part of our family, but he's had a seat at the head of the table."

Greig's wife Vivian said in a statement: "Our family wants to extend our gratitude for the support and condolences we have received and would ask for privacy at this very sad time."

Long-serving Nine Network cricket commentator and former Australia captain Richie Benaud recalled Greig's "fearless" reaction to the English public following his decision to join the Packer team in 1977.

"There was an enormous amount of pressure on him," Benaud told the Sydney Morning Herald. "He was captain of England at the time and played against Australia at Lord's. The English people turned against him.

"He wasn't just a fearless cricketer but a fearless thinker as well. He would not just jump in boots first, but it wouldn't matter how much pressure it put on him, he would stick with it."

Former Australia fast bowler Dennis Lillee told the same publication: "Tony was a tough opponent who took on all opposition with aggression and a determination to win.

"We will not forget the way he stirred the viewers in a similar vein to the way he did to opposition teams."

Adam Gilchrist, a former Australia wicketkeeper, told Triple M radio: "Horrible, frightening news. It's just such a shock. The cricketing community in particular will be hit very hard by this."

South Africa-born England batsman Matt Prior expressed his sadness through Twitter, saying: "Can't believe one of my heroes Tony Greig has passed away.

"One of the greatest voices in cricket and will be sorely missed."

ICC chief executive David Richardson also expressed his sadness on hearing the news of Greig's passing.

In an ICC statement, Richardson said: "This is extremely sad news for cricket and the ICC send their condolences to Tony's family and in particular his wife Vivian.

"Tony played a significant part in shaping modern cricket as a player in the 1970s and then provided millions of cricket lovers with a unique insight as a thoughtful and knowledgeable commentator - primarily for the Nine Network in Australia.

"I met with him on several occasions during the recent ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka where he was a senior commentator for our broadcast partner ESS.

"He was also a regular visitor to the ICC offices in Dubai when commentating for Ten Sports.

"I am sure that I will not be alone in saying that he and his wise words will be missed by cricketers, administrators and spectators around the world.

"His figures in Test matches show that he was one of the leading all-rounders of his generation with a batting average of above 40 and a bowling average around 32."

PA

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