Tributes to Tony Greig

The end of an infectious partnership

Brydon Coverdale

December 29, 2012

Comments: 32 | Text size: A | A

Tony Greig, Mark Taylor, Richie Benaud, Ian Chappell and Bill Lawry, Channel 9 commentators, attend the launch of the Ashes, Sydney, November 16, 2010
Tony Greig (left) and Bill Lawry (right) were colleagues for 33 years © Getty Images

Bill Lawry has remembered his friend and colleague Tony Greig as a great family man and a gentleman, and said he and Greig never shared a cross word outside the commentary box despite their memorable on-air banter. Lawry and Greig commentated together for 33 years on Channel Nine, a union that ended this summer when Greig was receiving treatment for lung cancer, and Lawry said he was "shattered" to hear that Greig had died aged 66.

"Most of all to me he was a family man," Lawry told ESPNcricinfo. "His wife Vivian is charming and he has four great kids. Every Test match in Sydney, the whole commentary team plus touring players, umpires, touring officials were all invited out to Tony Greig's place and that will be greatly missed next week. That's going to make the Sydney Test match very, very sad indeed. We're shattered for his wife Vivian and his four children because we've become close over the last 33 years."

The repartee between Greig and Lawry became an iconic part of the Australian summer throughout the 1980s and 1990s and continued over the past decade. It was a relationship that was sparked when Greig joined the Channel Nine commentary team fresh from two years of captaining the World XI during World Series Cricket, and Lawry remembers well their first meeting as fellow commentators.

"He walked in and said 'you're the Australian captain that lost 4-0 in South Africa aren't you?' And he beamed. And I said 'yeah, and you're the guy who gave up the captaincy of England for money'. I think from that moment on we were great friends because there was always a bit of banter. He won most times because his knowledge of cricket was far better than mine. He's a little bit like Ian Chappell, he was a bit of a cricket vegetable. He remembered almost everything that happened, and I'm a bit more airy-fairy than those two."

The differences between Lawry and Greig made them compelling when on air together, and it was producer David Hill who first saw the potential of the Lawry-Greig team.

"We had different views on cricket," Lawry said. "Tony's views were sometimes completely different to mine. But the point was we could have a bit of a challenge on air and as soon as we walked away we were the best of friends. We didn't have a cross word in the 33 years that I've known him. He was just a gentleman.

"He was fantastic because if you threw something out there he'd come in boots and all. There was no holding back with Tony. We laugh because originally he was well known for putting the key in the big cracks while doing the pitch report but his knowledge of cricket was outstanding. His record as an all-round cricketer was excellent and if you made a blue about something he was right on to you. He was always challenging but always a great friend."

On tour together as commentators, Greig would usually drive Lawry to the grounds - "he was a bit fast in the car," Lawry remembers - and they spent most nights having dinner together. In Hobart, the Channel Nine commentators would traditionally get together for a meal at Greig's favourite fish restaurant, and Lawry said the tradition was not continued during the recent Bellerive Oval Test.

"He loved the deep sea trevalla, battered. We always had that," Lawry said. "This year we didn't go because it wouldn't have been the same without Tony there."

It won't be the same in Sydney next week, either, where Lawry was hoping to see Greig for the first time since last summer.

"I was saying to Steve Crawley, our head of sport, yesterday I've really missed Tony this year and I'll be glad to see him in Sydney," Lawry said. "Of course I'm not going to see him and that's very sad."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Udendra on (December 31, 2012, 4:30 GMT)

what a multi-national package he was. born in SA, played for ENG, lived in AUS, had a grandmother in SL & loved by ALL. Truly a world-cricketer.

Posted by Bobby_Talyarkhan on (December 30, 2012, 22:25 GMT)

@KiwiRocker I have been as critical of India as many people (despite being an India supporter) in the past but I don't think this sad occasion is the appropriate moment to engage in that kind of adversarial banter. Tony Greig was loved in India even more than and earlier than other countries because of his exhuberance and spontaneity as a player - after he cradled Gundappa Viswanath in his arms when the latter reached his hundred against England in 1973 he could do no wrong in the eyes of any India cricket supporter. This is the time to remember his positive attributes and the affection in which he was held by cricket supporters everywhere, especially in India. His brashness and aggression sometimes got him into trouble (such as the infamous "grovel" remark in 1976) but no one doubted his commitment to and love of cricket. We may all agree or disagree with some things he said or did - but this is not the time for pompous and largely petty points about this or that country - RIP Tony!

Posted by   on (December 30, 2012, 22:18 GMT)

As a West Indian supporter two events stands out in memory of Tony Grieg:

1) I witnessed as a schoolboy; Tony Grieg near singled handedly beating the West Indies vs England @ the Queens Park Oval in Trinidad (squaring a 3 match Test series 1-1 in 1973), in a game where the genius Lawrence Rowe made a 2nd innings century and Tony Grieg took 13 wickets in the match bowling mostly Off-Breaks...

2) Tony Grieg was a also very combative cricketer on the field, and famously as the Captain of England charged up and brought out the best in the West Indian players in 1976 Test series played in England; where both the fast bowlers lead by Michael Holding & Co and batsmen lead by Vivian Richards & Co, successfully targeted him for stating he would make the West Indies Team "Grovel"..

Condolences to his family and loved ones...

RIP Tony Grieg...

Posted by CricketFirstLove on (December 30, 2012, 10:24 GMT)

I remember Tony Greig picking up Saleem Durrani for playing a maiden in an over in Bombay, Brabourne Stadium in year 1972 I guess, when Tony Lewis was the captain and bowled the very first ball he faced to Abid Ali. The over prior to that Saleem Durrani had hit Tony for six fours all round the field. Tony Lewis gave him another over and Durrani played maiden. So he lifted him up. He was such a lively guy. Although England lost the series but Tony Lewis and Tony Greig gave a lap of the Brabourne stadium waving the crowds. What a lively and generous gesture. Tiger Pataudi, Sunil Gavaskar, Vishwanath and Farouk Engineer all played in the match. But it was remembered for Tony Greig and Salim Durrani who had made 76 despite a ham strung muscle pull. He was dropped for the muscle pull but was recalled due to public outcry as Durrani was the "architect of the victory" in the previous test in Madras (now Chennai). So sad such a charismatic player like Greig in no more with us. Bt we cant forge

Posted by   on (December 30, 2012, 8:56 GMT)

I remember when these two were on commentry in a 1999 world cup match between Auastralia. Murray Goodwin and Neil Johnson were at the crease. Tony Greig was talking about the odds on Zimbabwe winning the match and just on que Neil Johnson played an excellent cover driver off Paul Reifel that went for four and a man in the crowd was jumping up and down, He then said " that man must have got 66 to 1(Zimbabwe's odds) he is jumping all over the place, we know one thing Bill; that zimbabwe has rolled over a few very good sides in the tournement (ref to India & South Africa). I couldn't happen to Australia could it Bill." Bill Lawry was at loss of words. Great partnership so sad that channel 9 choose to use 3 commentetors and that partnership was cut short even before Tony died. Rest In Peace Tony greg

Posted by here2rock on (December 30, 2012, 4:35 GMT)

The commentary box battles between Bill and Tony will be missed, most won by Tony.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2012, 3:55 GMT)

Through my earlier days in cricket I remember Mr. Craig not only as good batter, but a sportsman in true traditions of cricket. Alas! Likewise, Bill Lawry was a great opener. How these two paired in their future role seems appropriatly amplified by the writer here.......My wishes to both.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2012, 3:17 GMT)

Born to Scotland father and South African mother in S.Africa , but played cricket and captain for England and commentate from Australia .but all above he love SRI-LANKA . Mr. Tony Greig you will be always in our hearts. Love you RIP great Sri -Lankan ( he is the only recognize modern foreigner by SRI - LANKAN other than Sir Arthur C. Clark)

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (December 30, 2012, 2:53 GMT)

I sadly never saw Tony Greig playing but I like others have heard him over the years. The best thing about Tony Greig was that he was courageous as a player as well as commentator. He never bowed to pressures and was not on any particular board's payroll. His comments during his MCC lecture were fentastic. I quote him 'We can huff and puff and have all sorts of external reports but many of the problems with ICC can be resolved by India accepting that the spirit of cricket is more important than generating billions of dollars and turning out multi-millionaire players and didn't try and influence its allies in how to vote". This shows integrity and charcter of the man. Very rare soul!

Posted by   on (December 30, 2012, 2:48 GMT)

I will never forget the sight of Tony Greig standing defiantly with bat in hand deliberately shaking his knees during England's ill-fated 1974-75 tour of Australia. That took some doing with two fired up enforcers lining up to send down their missiles. Sad to know that we will not see or hear again one of the game's great characters.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2012, 2:32 GMT)

I can't believe that Tony is gone .Tony dearly miss you.Great cricketer,commentator.We keep you in our heart forever.RIP Tony.

Posted by Ajithlk on (December 29, 2012, 22:03 GMT)

Yesterday was a very sad day as I adored listening to Tony Greig, who was a colourful commentator. He was lively, entertaining, knowledgeable and had the remarkable ability to sometimes make the action on the field sound even better than it actually is, with his commentaries. He will be missed so much and May he rest in Peace. My Deepest condolences go out to his family and loved ones too.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2012, 21:41 GMT)

he was the golden voice in cricket... rip sir...

Posted by   on (December 29, 2012, 14:39 GMT)

So sad to see Tony pass away. Great words from Bill Lawry whose pain I'm sure is felt by everybody around the world.

Posted by Scheduler on (December 29, 2012, 14:36 GMT)

He was a legend when it comes to commentators. Thats how it is to be done and not the way Shastri's and Gavaskars do.Upcoming team of Ganguly and Dravid can learn from the legend. WE WILL MISS YOU TONY .Really an unbiased commentator.

Posted by danmcb on (December 29, 2012, 12:48 GMT)

A childhood hero of mine. Tragic that he is gone so soon. RIP Tony.

Posted by D.V.C. on (December 29, 2012, 11:30 GMT)

Caun't believeit - Tony Greig is gone.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2012, 11:23 GMT)

what a marvellous human being he was!!! very bubly,full of life,down to earth...I still cannot believe that he is not among us anymore...... my favourite commentator and a man with exceptional voice and brain.................he was very supportive of Imran khan and i just cannot forget his commentory in 1992 world cup....................... SIR TONY GREIG you will never be forgotten..........thanks a lot for all the wonderful memories you gave to the game of will not be the same without definitely would not be! it wouldnot.........

Posted by   on (December 29, 2012, 10:32 GMT)

A visionary to the core!!! Tony, we will miss you; not only for your lively commentary but the gentlemanly was you criticized the points you were sure were wrong. I've seen you play side match in Hyderabad, India, when you toured that country for the first time, and instantly was bowled over by your noninfectious smile. May Heavens shower choicest blessing upon your soul.

Posted by Taha_Farrukh on (December 29, 2012, 9:53 GMT)

Miss him a lot.......................

Posted by StarsFan on (December 29, 2012, 9:52 GMT)

RIP Tony Greig. The cricket won't be the same without your voice. Thanks for the memories. Mythoughts are with your family.

Posted by Beertjie on (December 29, 2012, 9:49 GMT)

My most amusing story was how he asked Bradman on first meeting him whether he was somehow connected to cricket administration. With no TV in his native South Africa, he simply couldn't identify "the old geezer" at the airport who was welcoming the RoW players in '71!

Posted by   on (December 29, 2012, 9:44 GMT)

Standing tall and menacing at silly point, Tony Grieg would unnerve most batsmen. He was among the early South Africans to play for England, a practice which started with another fine player Basil Dolivera. Greig was a combative player, a great commentator and a towering personality on and off the cricket field. He will be missed.

Posted by Legends_Legacy on (December 29, 2012, 8:59 GMT)

The Sharjah series of 1998 - Sachin's famous desert storm knock was made immortal by Tony Greig's sensational commentary. Sad day for the cricketing world. R.I.P Tony Greig.

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 29, 2012, 8:47 GMT)

So sad to hear the end of Tony Greig! He is so much loved by the cricket lovers of Sri Lanka.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2012, 8:40 GMT)

The first matches of cricket I remember watching had Slater and Taylor at the crease with Healy behind the stumps. Lawry, Benaud and Tony were commentating. To think those players are now veterans behind the mic and that Tony is now gone is shocking. I'll always remember Tony Greig's voice and his passion for the game, it wont ever be the same without him.

Posted by SpadeaSpade on (December 29, 2012, 8:28 GMT)

Tony Grieg Ornament to the Game of cricket on and off the field, Great servant of the greatest game !!! you will be missed mate

Posted by   on (December 29, 2012, 7:29 GMT)

Sachin Retires From ODI and u retire from Life. Who will forget your commentary on that Sharjah match 1998. R.I.P Mr Greig

Posted by   on (December 29, 2012, 7:22 GMT)

Born in South Africa.. Played cricket for England... Mostly Lived & Died in Australia.. Always Support Our Little Island Srilanka.. Overall a Magnificent Human Being for World of Sports!! You Legend Tony Greig!! RIP!!

Posted by LillianThomson on (December 29, 2012, 7:21 GMT)

I'd highly recommend the "Twelfth Man"'s comedy CDs which parody the Channel 9 commentary team and especially Bill and Tony's partnership.

A really warm parody, obviously based in love for the commentary team.

By the way, I hope the funeral's going to be on Wednesday. Otherwise Channel 9's not going to be able to assemble a commentary team for the Third Test which starts on Thursday! At least they'll all be in Sydney this week.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2012, 7:21 GMT)

This is a very sad day for World Cricket! His commentaries used to irritate me being a long-suffering Kiwi fan- but give him his due the Kiwis usually deserved his scathing remarks. Tony Greig was honest and always fair..I will miss him

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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