Cricket: 'I Knew That They Loved Cricket and I Loved Being There, the Passion of It' ; TONY GREIG: HOW INDIA CHANGED MY LIFE

Article excerpt

*** Tony Greig wowed India. He was treated everywhere with a fervour usualy reserved for boy bands by pubescent girls. He did it with a straightforward approach: he embraced the place and its people and for this they adored him.

It led, indirectly at least, to a thumping 3-1 victory secured against the best spinners in the world, stil England's finest on the subcontinent. In addition it alowed the tourists to make light of an event in the clinching victory which might easily have had calamitous consequences.

If it was Greig's wonderful showmanship and natural charisma that permitted the strategy, the original idea came from the most improbable of sources. Before the tour began in late 1976, Greig went out to dinner with Jim Swanton, the redoubtable cricket correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, who was championing the England captain's cause.

"He just advised, 'Be nice to them and don't make the mistake of being critical of their umpires," said Greig. "On the tour four years earlier there had been one particular concerted appeal by England in a Test that didn't go down wel. I just decided to adopt Jim's policy."

There was an irony in this because Swanton, whose career as one of the most influential voices in English cricket (correspondent and quasi-chairman of selectors) lasted half a century, never visited the subcontinent.

So Greig tipped up in India and was immediately asked about their officials, since the home country then stil supplied both. "The debate had already started about whether there should be neutrals but I said that they had some of the best umpires in the world and until I was proved wrong I was sticking with that. Before we knew it we were 3-0 up and I believe it had something to do with my policy, because they never received anything other than flak from overseas teams. They gave decisions they might not have done, like bat-pad, which was unbelievable, but Jim should have the credit. …