Greigy Was Brave as a Lion and a Great Showman; CRICKET TONY GREIG 1946 -2012

Article excerpt


IT WAS only intended as ebullient rhetoric, but Tony Greig was never allowed to forget his choice of the word "grovel".

Expounding his theory that the West Indies would wilt under pressure, Greig's attempt to touch a raw nerve instead unleashed the fire in Babylon on his unsuspecting batsmen.

"You must remember that the West Indians, these guys, if they get on top are magnificent cricketers," said the England captain.

"But if they are down, they grovel, and I intend, with the help of Closey (Brian Close) and a few others, to make them grovel."

By the end of that summer, the bruises on Close's ribcage looked like a marksman's target peppered with bullet holes. And Greig - on his hands and knees in front of joyous West Indian fans at the Oval - was the one grovelling.

It is a measure of Greig's standing in world cricket that West Indian players initially outraged by his "grovel" remark not only forgave him but became some of his best friends. Michael Holding, whose 14 wickets against England at the Oval 36 years ago remains one of the greatest fast bowling performances, speared two yorkers through Greig's defence in that match.

If he was fired up to rearrange Greig's poles in 1976, he was devastated to learn of the former England skipper's death, aged 66, from a heart attack in Sydney at the weekend.

Speaking from Miami, where he is now based between assignments in the commentary box, Holding said: "I had stayed up late to watch TV when an email came through from a friend in Brisbane and when I saw it was marked 'RIP Tony Greig' I thought, 'What the hell is this?' "After reading the contents, I was so shattered I just turned the TV off, closed the laptop down and went to bed with a tear in my eye.

ding the contents, I was I just turned the TV he laptop down o bed with a eye.

onents, our the field was intense, after the Greigy "As opponents, our rivalry on the field was always intense, especially after the comments Greigy made.

"The word 'grovel' did not go down well word not well At t with us. At the time it was thought to have a racist undercurrent, coming as it did from a white man brought up in apartheid South Africa, but I am certain he didn't actually mean it that way.

"We became great friends and he was always good company, especially around the New Year Test in Sydney when he was often a generous host. …