I understand I am some way off his Christmas card list but
it is with regret, nevertheless, that I have learnt Tony Greig will definitely
not be part of the Channel 9 commentary mix at the outset of the Test series
between Australia and South Africa in Brisbane next Friday.
He apparently didn’t take too kindly to my revisiting, in
this column, the time he got a well-known former South African player’s name
tongue-twisted and he thus became “Dippe Boetenaar”.
It can happen to anyone and the reference was intended only in
humour, although Greigy seemingly interpreted it differently and took to
Twitter (@greigtalks, which does appear to be his “official” handle) to challenge
the competence – he didn’t put it quite so diplomatically -- of Sport24’s
As we have just a single dedicated on-staff one, it didn’t
take yours truly very long to put two and two together.
Fair cop; I can take it.
And it doesn’t stop me rueing the confirmation that widely-travelled
former England captain Greig, who more recently was diagnosed with cancer, will
be a rare absentee when coverage of the first Test at the Gabba gets underway.
(That many Sport24 readers will join me in sincerely wishing him only good
energy in his battle can be taken as a given.)
That news came in a good piece on Cricinfo by Mark Nicholas,
angled around Greig’s non-presence but largely focusing on the keenly-awaited
looming Test combat itself.
Nicholas, who hosts Channel 9’s cricket coverage, lamented:
“For the first time in more than 30 years, the Australian summer of cricket
will begin without Tony Greig at the microphone.
“His illness is well enough documented, though no less
shocking for it. He hopes to work again during the summer but right now the big
fella has his nose to the grindstone that is the dreaded C-word.
“It is especially poignant that the South Africans are in
Australia. Greig will have the television on when the first ball is delivered
at the Gabba, and his heart will be with the land of his birth.
“Australia is home … there may be an element of love/hate to
his relationship with Australian audiences but Greigy is a much-loved part of
I agree with Nicholas, too, that his banter in the box with
Bill Lawry is “part of the folklore” of Channel 9’s presentation.
For the record, I’d count Greig among my top two Channel
Niners in cricket commentary terms – the other is Ian Chappell – for the
assertiveness of his theories, whether you concur with them or not, and
willingness to make fast calls on whether he feels a batsman is out, where
others may hedge their bets for a bit and wait for replays.
Chappell makes up in marvellous cricketing science what he
loses in all too often taking a glaringly anti-Saffer stance!
On that score, SuperSport are sending several of their own
commentators – Kepler Wessels, Pommie Mbangwa, HD Ackerman and Mike Haysman –
to the series, although communications chief Clinton van der Berg assures that
the Channel 9 feed (plus Afrikaans) will also still be available to those who
The SuperSport offering will be supplemented by
contributions from Tom Moody, one of the more broad-minded, even-handed and
insightful Aussie experts on the game around.
Rob’s Awesome Foursome
1 Titans v Lions, Momentum One-Day
15:00, SS2, CSN & SHD
The domestic 50-overs competition gets underway this weekend
with three matches – the other two on Sunday – but the Friday opener holds
pretty strong appeal as it pits the old Highveld foes against each other. Both
the Titans and Lions had extremely decent campaigns in the lucrative T20
Champions League, until the latter were rather painfully taken to the cleaners
by Sydney Sixers in the final, so will want to carry on where they left off in
the shorter format, to a good degree.
2 Manchester United v Arsenal,
English Premiership soccer
14:45, SS3 & Maximo
I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Robin van Persie the
person – occasionally I have reason to suspect at least part of his surname is
fairly apt – but there’s no denying his lethal talents as a goal-poacher. And
here he gets to wrestle his former employers as the Gunners go to Old Trafford
for a lunchtime classic fixture to begin the latest round of Premiership games.
In league terms, the Red Devils come off that controversial but important 3-2
triumph at Chelsea, whilst the visitors were nervy in only taking down
labouring QPR 1-0 at the Emirates. Mind you, that 7-5 net-buster against
Reading in the League Cup in midweek must have done a bit to revive their
attacking confidence. Maybe just not quite enough to grab something here?
3 F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix motorsport
Abu Dhabi, Sunday
15:00, SS1 & SHD
There may only be two men standing in the charge to be this
year’s drivers’ champion – Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso of
Ferrari – but that’s still better than having a lone, runaway candidate, isn’t
it? Thirteen points separate Vettel, at the top, from Alonso and after this
desert scrap there’s just the US Grand Prix (November 18) and Brazil (November
25) to settle the fate of the title. The 55-lap Yas Marina Circuit is renowned
for its fast straights and it ought to test combatants’ heat tolerance, too, as
temperatures of up to 33 deg C are
anticipated despite the late-afternoon scheduling in local terms.
4 Bloemfontein Celtic v Orlando
Pirates, Telkom Knockout QF soccer
15:00, SABC1, SS4 & SHD4
Given a Free State Stadium match-up of two clubs whose
supporters count amongst the vibiest and most dedicated on the domestic
circuit, this quarter-final shapes up as potentially the most appealing of the
weekend’s four. Both teams enter it, though, off shaky results in the Premiership,
with Pirates having been held goalless at home by basement club AmaZulu and
Celtic upset 2-1 at home by surprise packages University of Pretoria. The game
has dual coverage on SuperSport and the national broadcaster.