Tributes to Tony Greig December 29, 2012

'One of cricket's great travellers'

Tony Greig genuinely loved the game, was always well-informed about it, and brought an energy all his own to the commentary box

It didn't matter if you didn't agree with Tony Greig, and I don't think it mattered to him either, but gee, you listened to him.

He had what every commentator must: he had energy, and he loved the game, and the two always went together. And because he so loved the game, he knew everything about it. If there was a change in the playing conditions, he was up with the news first; if there was a match going on in Gwalior and he was in Port Elizabeth, he knew what was happening; and if there was a controversy, he waded into it.

I didn't actually work a lot with him but whenever I did, I noticed he was always ready. He had his facts and he would go into battle with them. "Righto, let's take a look at this..." meant you had better be prepared to talk about what he was going to come up with. When I wasn't completely sure about a couple of aspects of the DRS debate, I went to his blog, and sure as ever, everything was there. He liked to know what was happening.

But Greig the commentator was merely the reflection of Greig, the outstanding cricketer. He came to Hyderabad in 1972-73, and I instantly disliked him from our school stand because he produced a beauty to bowl our hero, GR Viswanath. He had long strides, and like all South Africans hit the deck hard. We went home that evening and while we couldn't match the length of his strides, we still copied his run-up and delivery.

Those two England tours of India, 1972-73, and then as captain in 1976-77 were memorable. We didn't know silly point till he stood there. He batted for ever and ever in Calcutta to score 103 and win England a game, and of course, in Bombay he lifted Vishy up in his arms when he got a hundred. That picture appeared everywhere.

He was English, he was Australian, and often he was Sri Lankan, but somewhere the South African in him never went away. On the few occasions we chatted, I asked him about South Africa and I thought there was a different tone to his voice. He was one of cricket's great travellers.

I will miss the zest he had for cricket.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer. His Twitter feed is here

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