Former England cricket captain Tony Greig dies
Cricket commentator Tony Greig in Australia on December 10, 1991. Photo: V.V. Krishnan | The Hindu
File photo of December 28, 1991 shows Tony Greig and Sunil Gavaskar at the commentary box during the second cricket Test match between Australia and India at Melbourne. Photo: V.V. Krishnan | The Hindu
File photo shows cricket commentator Tony Greig making a pitch report at the Bellerive Oval, Hobart in Australia before the WSC cricket match between Australia and India on December 10, 1991. Photo: V.V. Krishnan | The Hindu

Hospital officials say former England captain and cricket commentator Tony Greig has died after suffering a heart attack. He was 66.

Greig had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, but the cause of death was a heart attack at his home on Saturday morning and he died early Saturday afternoon.

Australian Associated Press quoted St. Vincent’s Hospital spokesman David Faktort as saying “he was rushed into St Vincent’s hospital. The staff of the emergency department worked on Mr. Greig to no avail.”

The Sydney-based, South Africa-born Greig was initially diagnosed with bronchitis in May, but the condition lingered and in October he had tests that revealed a small lesion at the base of his right lung. Upon his return to Australia from the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, he had fluid removed from the right lung and testing revealed the cancer.

“It’s not good,” Greig had said after the surgery. “The truth is I’ve got lung cancer. Now it’s a case of what they can do.”

A confident and occasionally abrasive character, Greig reveled in the on-field contest and at times stirring up crowds, such as during the 1974-75 Ashes series.

Standing 1.96 meters (6 foot 6) with a shock of blond hair, Greig was an imposing and charismatic figure whose strong performances and ability to bond the team earned him the England captaincy. He played 58 tests for England and scored 3,599 runs at an average of 40.43 and took 141 wickets at 32.20.

Greig was a key figure in recruiting international players for Kerry Packer’s anti—establishment World Series Cricket which began in 1977, the year Greig played his last test for England.

In the 1980s Greig became a high-profile member of the commentary team for Australia’s Nine Network and his decades behind the microphone made him an institution in Australia’s sporting life. Nine Network described Greig as a “beloved” figure.

“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 colorful and expert commentary,” Nine said.

Greig’s involvement in WSC caused an abrupt end to his international cricket career. “When the enterprise was made public, his stocks plummeted,” cricket writer Gideon Haigh wrote on the cricinfo website. “He lost not just England’s captaincy, but what would have been a record-breaking benefit. “He was diminished, too, by his indifferent on-field performances in World Series Cricket, where he seemed to cast himself as pantomime villain. “Nonetheless, subsequent generations of professional cricketers owe him a debt of gratitude.”

Tributes began appearing on social media almost immediately.

Current Australia coach, South African Mickey Arthur, said on Twitter- “RIP-Tony Greig.A very good man!”

England wicketkeeper Matt Prior said, “Can’t believe one of my heroes Tony Greig has passed away. One of the greatest voices in cricket and will be sorely missed.”

Pakistan coach Dav Whatmore, a former Australian test batsman, said- “Just landed in chennai and learnt of Tony Greig’s passing. Deepest sympathies to his family. Great man, great career. He will be missed.”

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