'Greig was proud of SA roots'

2012-12-29 14:33

Johannesburg - Former England captain and international cricket commentator Tony Greig - who played a significant role in the commercial revolution of cricket - never forgot his South African roots, said former cricketer Ali Bacher.

"He was proud of his upbringing and, at every opportunity, paid tribute to the excellent cricket grounding he received from Queen's College where he went to school," said Bacher on Saturday as the news broke of Greig's death.

"He passed on his love of his native South Africa to his young son Tom, who can often be seen wearing a Springbok rugby jersey or Proteas cricket shirt."

Greig, who died on Saturday at his home in Sydney, Australia, at the age of 66, was born in Queenstown, in the Eastern Cape. The 66-year-old suffered a heart attack in the midst of his battle with advanced-stage lung cancer.

Bacher, who said he was "shattered" by the news of Greig's death, held onto vivid memories of Greig being a very tough competitor.

"I only played against him in provincial cricket for about two years and what stuck in my mind was how he always gave 100 per cent.

"He never sledged and he just never stopped trying."

Bacher acknowledged Greig's key role in Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket (WSC) revolution in the late seventies which changed the future of the game. "To emphasise the significance of Greig's role in the Packer Series, you need to put it into perspective in world-cricket terms," Bacher said.

"There have been three major crises in the history of world cricket - the 'Bodyline Series' in the thirties, the Packer revolution in the seventies and, more recently, match-fixing. His role in the WSC was hugely substantial."

Greig was a strategic figure in recruiting international players for the WSC which began in 1977, and abruptly ended his England Test career.

"He suffered an enormous backlash, playing for England at the time. He didn't just join the revolution, he was a huge player in it and saw the need for it.

"It changed the face of cricket forever - for the better - primarily because, from that moment on, cricket became a strong commercial entity.

"As a result, the international cricketers and English county players, who were professional, started to receive just rewards and were better remunerated for their expertise and skills. It would never have happened without the Packer revolution."

The WSC also introduced night cricket and coloured clothing to the game.

Bacher said he was due to speak to his former provincial adversary on Saturday evening in a scheduled interview.

Writing a book with David Williams on the best all-rounders produced in this country, Bacher said Tony Greig would be one of the featured cricketers.

He had played 58 Tests for England - 14 as captain - and scored 3 599 runs at an average of 40.43 and took 141 wickets at 32.20.

"I spoke to him a few months ago when he had just returned from Dubai and he told me he was not so well but was going in for a lung biopsy," Bacher said.

"He was delighted about the book and we arranged that at end of November I would phone him for a detailed interview as I had a lot of questions for him. He then sent me e-mail to say he was going in for a big op and would come back to me in ten days’ time.

"That telephone interview had been arranged for tonight and then I got the sad news this morning that he had passed away."

Bacher also recalled their early playing days and an incident which, until this day, the former South African Test captain had never spoken about publicly.

"In the 1970/71 season, Tony was playing for Eastern Province at the Wanderers against Transvaal. We (Transvaal) won the toss and we were batting. I was the non-facing batsman when one of their bowlers ran in from the Golf Course end and the facing batsman cut the ball to gully where Greig was fielding. He stopped the ball and then keeled over having an epileptic fit," Bacher said.

"As I was a medical practitioner, I ran and got my medical bag from the boot of my car. I gave him an intravenous shot of valium and then we rushed him to a neurologist."

The late Charles Fortune, doyen of radio broadcasting at the time, commentating on the game, said on air Greig had suffered sunstroke and kept the public in the dark about Greig's epilepsy.

Bacher said Greig had been diagnosed with the condition while still at Queen's College and, in a recent telephone conversation, told Bacher he was happy to have the truth about the incident revealed.

"He said he had never tried to conceal it and he wanted people to know and to be an inspiration to those suffering from the often-debilitating condition."


  • sean.bagley.50 - 2012-12-29 14:53

    Tony Greig will always be fondly remembered by people for his generous spirit and being such a lovable,perceptive and insightful cricket commentator.Playing in the shadows of Hangklip in Queenstown,their best loved cricketing son like a pebble in the ocean of life that's gone too soon.The cricketing world will be a poorer place now with Tony Greig gone.Legendary stuff.

      Ouklip - 2012-12-29 22:49

      Well said Sean. During the period SA was prevented from playing international sports, players like Tony reminded the sporting world what they were missing. Tony was in the mould of Edie Barlow, Clive Rice. Mike Proctor, never say die. The world economy forced a lot of South Africans to return as they do not have a support structure where they are. I have been lucky and hope not to return. Will allways be A Bull, Protea and Springbok supporter. However in April I will be in Irvine, CA to support the Lions. I left SA as unemployment did not do my ego any good.

  • mzwandile.dlamanzi - 2012-12-29 15:13

    Are you refering to the same roots as Kevin Petersen is proud off.

      roy.wadhams.1 - 2012-12-29 15:27

      KP is and will always be just after the money no matter who he plays for. Tony was proud South African and loved his adopted country. He made a big difference to cricket in this country.

      brassells.allover - 2012-12-29 15:33

      Mzwandile. Rather comment in your own language. Your English grammar and spelling is terrible. Refering is referring and proud of,, not off.,,, dummy

      koos.meyer.52 - 2012-12-29 15:39

      Kevin is from PMB, not Queenstown.

      tinotenda.panashe - 2012-12-29 16:00

      Dead right Mzwandile. Only that you can't say bad about the dead. How are you proud of a country you desert and decide to play for another? You are proud of the country you represent at international level, period. He was proudbly English that is for sure.

      inky.pinky.56 - 2012-12-29 17:35

      @ Roy. I see you are KP bashing again! Do you not tire of boring us with your immature comments all the time? Please elaborate on which professional cricketer does not play for money? Which adopted country did Tony love so much? And finally, what difference did Tony make to cricket in SA?

      mzwandile.dlamanzi - 2012-12-29 18:20

      Thats what i mean panashe but for the same reasons i did not want to elaborate much: just to respect death. Otherwise we are taken for a ride over here.

      avremel.niselow - 2012-12-30 08:19

      South Africa were in isolation, that was the only way he was going to play international cricket. K

      CapeChappy - 2012-12-30 12:45

      tinotenda.panashe & mzwandile.dlamanzi Tony Greig left at a time when South Africans were not allowed to play international cricket, so he left to play for England. Simple as that. He was a very talented cricketer that knew he could achieve greater things, which was proven when he was asked to CAPTAIN a team of a foreign country. To compare him to a player that left in recent times to chase the money is ridiculous.

  • michael.bushes.1 - 2012-12-29 16:10

    Who cares where he was born, we all live on the same damn planet. Point is, he was a fantastic commentator, 1000% better than the crap commentary quality past and present in south africa eg: trevor quirk

  • glennmozambique - 2012-12-29 16:23

    B*LL SH*T, Greig treated us South Africans as retarded second class colonial citizens as soon as he left like all the Chicken runners who leave the GREAT RSA, sympathy and condolences to his family but please don't make me barf about his fondness about RSA!!!! He hated us like all of those that try and disassociate themselves from their roots.

      inky.pinky.56 - 2012-12-29 17:43

      @ Glenn & Fannie. The two of you clearly have no idea what you are talking about. Tony never missed an opportunity to refer to his roots and always made it clear that he would always be a South African no matter what was printed on his passports. The honourable thing for you to do is to voluntary delete your disgusting comments as Tony was a wonderful ambassador for SA and does not deserve the rubbish you wrote.

      carin.venter.7 - 2012-12-30 01:32

      You are probably smoking that same bullsh@t

  • Marco Ferreira - 2012-12-29 21:20

    Hi brassells.allover. Just realised I would probably suck when it comes to commenting in a language foreign to my own. Maybe Mzwandile is trying to include you by using English as his 3rd language!!!!!

      tinotenda.panashe - 2012-12-29 21:59

      Point is grammatic and spelling errors are everywhere even to those English is their first language. You brassells.allover try to put a sentence in isiZulu or isiXhosa and lets see how far you can go. At least Mzwandile can communicate in more than one language.

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