June 28, 2012

Kerry played guitar

Tony Greig has no cause to feel anything but proud about his involvement with World Series Cricket - as seminal a turning point as any the game has seen
  shares 54

Tony Greig, once one of England's dazzling boys, began his MCC Spirit of Cricket / Cowdrey Lecture on Tuesday night with a reluctant paraphrase of his part in World Series Cricket, 35 years after it shook the game to its core. Reluctant because it is a whopping subject to skim across, double reluctant because he lost the coveted England captaincy over it.

WSC was Kerry Packer's astonishing 18-month raid on the game, from late summer 1977 to the spring of 1979, when most of the world's best players deserted the established corridors and signed to play for Packer in the closest thing cricket has ever seen to a rock 'n roll circus. For a cricket-crazed teenager at the time it was a seminal moment, as big in its way as the Beatles, and as much fun as the record that changed the seventies, David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust. We watched open-mouthed as Dennis Lillee and Lenny Pascoe, Imran Khan and Garth Le Roux, Michael Holding and Andy Roberts bowled a white ball the speed of light, under lights, dressed in tight, coloured clothes with bell bottoms and butterfly collars.

Packer wanted cricket's television rights for the Nine Network and the Australian Cricket Board's refusal to let him anywhere near them led to an adventure, and bloodshed, that changed the game irrevocably. Depending on your take, Packer was either the Man Who Sold the World or Starman - "He's told us not to blow it, 'cause he knows it's all worthwhile," said Bowie in the song. Either way, he would have his way, and cricket's commercial transformation had begun.

Greig's one regret is that he never squared it with important old-school figures who had backed him throughout the journey from his native South Africa to the top of the English tree. He had signed a confidentiality clause with Packer and gone underground to recruit players on his behalf. By the time the story broke in the early summer of 1977, many of the best were known to be on board and Greig was stripped of the captaincy for the Ashes series in waiting. His unease at this was clear enough while he spoke at Lord's on Tuesday, but the way in which he revealed a letter he had written to Packer all those years ago must have brought immense relief and the sense of justification.

"Kerry, money is not my major concern. I'm nearly 31 and probably two or three Test failures from being dropped by England. Ian Botham is going to be a great player and there won't be room in the side for both of us. England captains such as Brian Close, Ray Illingworth and Colin Cowdrey lost the captaincy before they expected. I don't want to finish up in a mundane job when they drop me. I'm not trained to do anything. I went straight from school to playing for Sussex. My family's future is more important than anything else. If you guarantee me a job for life working for your organisation, I will sign."

There you have it in a paragraph - a cricketer's insecurity. At the time England were paying £210 per Test match, less than the cost of the tickets he had to buy for his family to attend the 1976-77 Centenary Test.

We watched open-mouthed as Dennis Lillee and Lenny Pascoe, Imran Khan and Garth Le Roux, Michael Holding and Andy Roberts bowled a white ball the speed of light, under lights, dressed in tight, coloured clothes with bell bottoms and butterfly collars

WSC was a conflation of five-day Test cricket, 50-over hoedowns, day time and night time, red balls and white balls, piped clothing, pink clothing, sky blue and canary yellow, bouncers, helmets, drop-in pitches, and two Richards from previously untouchable boundaries, Barry and Viv, batting together in the same team. It was played upcountry and in urban centres, in showgrounds and in parks and even, occasionally, on cricket grounds. Pakistanis, West Indians, South Africans, Kiwis, the Poms and the Aussies, all busting a gut on behalf of the same man. "You gotta make way for the Homo Superior," sang Bowie in "Oh! You Pretty Things". Camera, lights action.

It is often overlooked that Packer loved cricket deeply, and that beneath the bluster was an unseen pastoral care for its roots and its people. He took the history of the game and revamped it for the future. His cricket was played with a shocking, gladiatorial intensity and at an immensely high standard. The only disappointment was that the circus never came to London town. After two memorable, seismic summers in Australia, and brief flings in New Zealand and the Carribean, it was all over - gone as suddenly as Ziggy. The rights were secured and Packer, via a High Court restraint of trade challenge at Lincoln's Inn, was in the winners' enclosure. Greig should be nothing but proud of his part in the most important period the game has seen. Without immediately becoming rich, the players at last earned a decent whack for their ability to fill a stadium, though it was a long time before their income truly reflected their value.

To those of us lucky to have been in Australia for any small part of this show, the memories will never fade. The players were our gods, each glimpse was a moment when the world stood still. Imran was impossibly beautiful and gifted; Le Roux a rock of a man with a blonde mane and body builder's physique. Swathes of women hung around the hotels, and Australia's youth were at one with the chorus of the song that rang out across those two short years - "Come on Aussie, c'mon,c'mon / Come on Aussie, c'mon / You've been training all the winter and there's not a team that's fitter / You gotta beat the best the world has seen."

The Chappells, Lillee, Thommo and Rod Marsh were so damn macho and so bloody good. The South Africans - Richards, Le Roux, Mike Procter, Clive Rice - irresistible, explosive. John Snow, Javed Miandad and Richard Hadlee were stand-ins, for goodness' sake. And there was Viv. Swoon. And Gordon, Clive and Mikey and the colossals, Wayne Daniel and Joel Garner. These were superheroes who formed the dreams of a generation.

Greig himself was no slouch - tall, slim and charismatic, with a shock of peroxide hair that set him apart, he somehow he led the World XI to victory in the defining Supertest finale at the Sydney Cricket Ground - a place of redemption at the end of the road. On Tuesday, he kicked off a fascinating Cowdrey lecture with all that needs to be his final confession on the subject. This was a golden age and the scandal that you can't find a whisper of it in the record books should be addressed by the modern game, which thrives off the fat of the land first sown by Kerry Packer and his extraordinary World Series Band.

Mark Nicholas, the former Hampshire captain, presents the cricket on Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in the UK

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Meety on | July 1, 2012, 11:17 GMT

    "...the scandal that you can't find a whisper of it in the record books..." - HERE, HERE! There should at least be a WSC category on cricinfo like you get for tests, ODIs, & T20s & where practical, you should be able to inc in test or ODI stats.

  • POSTED BY screamingeagle on | June 30, 2012, 18:10 GMT

    Nice words, nice prose, yea, I agree. Point though is about Greig. He was a mercenary then, if you consider the current crop to be mercenaries. As far as him holding forth on DRS and BCCI, all I can say is nice try. However, it is quite clear from his ICL involvement what his motives were, and I do not think no one in India really care. Kudos to BCCI for not picking on this diatribe from a disgruntled has been.

  • POSTED BY harshthakor on | June 30, 2012, 13:02 GMT

    Viv Richards v.Lillee was the ultimate sight in Packer cricket.Barry Richards was an epitome of perfection and his 2 centuries,including a 207 v.Australia and a hundred in a supertest final were classics.I can't forget Lillee's 7-23 in 1978.Adding Packers stats Lillee would have had 446 scalps.I also remember Greg Chappells 621 runs in 5 supertest in 1979 in West Indies,against the greatest bowling attack.In a crisis Ian Chappell was the ultimate batsmen.

  • POSTED BY harshthakor on | June 30, 2012, 12:57 GMT

    The most entertaining cricket and arguably the most competitive took place in World Series Packer Cricket supertests and one-day internationals.I don't think Viv or Barry Richards or both the Chappell brothers ever performed better.The challenge also brought out the best in Dennis Lillee.Viv's batting in 1977-78 was arguably the best since Bradman while Greg Chappel was brilliant in the Carribean in 1979.Australia v.rest of the world was the ultimate contest featuring the likes of Lillee,Imran Khan,Gordon Greenidge,Viv Richards,Chappell brothersetc.

    To me Packer cricket was responsible for the emergence of West Indies becoming a world -beating side and the emergence of Imran Khan as one of cricket's greatest players ever.Sad,that it is not counted in the official records .

  • POSTED BY IamDan on | June 30, 2012, 7:49 GMT

    To all you people bagging Tony Greig, and what he done for Cricket, grow-up, he should not cop this unnecessary, rubbishing. And to all you Indian, and BCCI, supporters, he is not saying anything against the players, and the money they earn. The only problem he has with the BCCI, is their lack of strength to over-rule, certain senior players, and back and support the UDRS, system. Most of the Indian players are for UDRS, and the BCCI, favour it, take your blinkers off, the main reason the BCCI, don`t want to use UDRS, is a selfish little man, obsessed with averages, S R Tendulkar. Once he retires, i can guarantee the BCCI, will be in favour of the UDRS. I was a young Aussie`, teenager, when WSC, started, it changed Cricket on TV forever, and i have too thank, Tony Grieg, Ian Chappell, Richie Benaud, and Bill Lawry, for that. It also took Cricket, from a poorly managed, Amateurish, game, to a professionally managed, professional Sport, and i thank Kerry Packer, for this.

  • POSTED BY on | June 30, 2012, 1:12 GMT

    "his final confession on the subject".. A Mark says this should have been a confession on his part.. And as the good book says.."let those who have not sinned throw the first stone"

  • POSTED BY on | June 29, 2012, 17:58 GMT

    perhaps 20 years later, mark nicholas can say the exact same thing about IPL, except the names would change to sachin,lee, steyn etc.

  • POSTED BY SteveBooth96 on | June 29, 2012, 14:01 GMT

    @yavaid - what Tony Greig did wasn't greed in the same way that it's not greedy if someone who is hungry eats. If someone who is full continues to eat, that is greed. Tony Greig was guarding against future hunger, the BCCI is not.

  • POSTED BY crick_sucks on | June 29, 2012, 8:58 GMT

    Harsha has given a fitting reply to you and your kind. Well said Harsha!!!

  • POSTED BY gandabhai on | June 29, 2012, 8:47 GMT

    Some people want DRS , some people want to constantly kick India , What i want are better decisions across the board so that each and every team is given FAIR decisions all of the time .THAT SHOULD BE THE PRIMARY GOAL .Every thing else should be geared towards achieving that goal .If you ask most Indians, they would back these words .

  • POSTED BY Meety on | July 1, 2012, 11:17 GMT

    "...the scandal that you can't find a whisper of it in the record books..." - HERE, HERE! There should at least be a WSC category on cricinfo like you get for tests, ODIs, & T20s & where practical, you should be able to inc in test or ODI stats.

  • POSTED BY screamingeagle on | June 30, 2012, 18:10 GMT

    Nice words, nice prose, yea, I agree. Point though is about Greig. He was a mercenary then, if you consider the current crop to be mercenaries. As far as him holding forth on DRS and BCCI, all I can say is nice try. However, it is quite clear from his ICL involvement what his motives were, and I do not think no one in India really care. Kudos to BCCI for not picking on this diatribe from a disgruntled has been.

  • POSTED BY harshthakor on | June 30, 2012, 13:02 GMT

    Viv Richards v.Lillee was the ultimate sight in Packer cricket.Barry Richards was an epitome of perfection and his 2 centuries,including a 207 v.Australia and a hundred in a supertest final were classics.I can't forget Lillee's 7-23 in 1978.Adding Packers stats Lillee would have had 446 scalps.I also remember Greg Chappells 621 runs in 5 supertest in 1979 in West Indies,against the greatest bowling attack.In a crisis Ian Chappell was the ultimate batsmen.

  • POSTED BY harshthakor on | June 30, 2012, 12:57 GMT

    The most entertaining cricket and arguably the most competitive took place in World Series Packer Cricket supertests and one-day internationals.I don't think Viv or Barry Richards or both the Chappell brothers ever performed better.The challenge also brought out the best in Dennis Lillee.Viv's batting in 1977-78 was arguably the best since Bradman while Greg Chappel was brilliant in the Carribean in 1979.Australia v.rest of the world was the ultimate contest featuring the likes of Lillee,Imran Khan,Gordon Greenidge,Viv Richards,Chappell brothersetc.

    To me Packer cricket was responsible for the emergence of West Indies becoming a world -beating side and the emergence of Imran Khan as one of cricket's greatest players ever.Sad,that it is not counted in the official records .

  • POSTED BY IamDan on | June 30, 2012, 7:49 GMT

    To all you people bagging Tony Greig, and what he done for Cricket, grow-up, he should not cop this unnecessary, rubbishing. And to all you Indian, and BCCI, supporters, he is not saying anything against the players, and the money they earn. The only problem he has with the BCCI, is their lack of strength to over-rule, certain senior players, and back and support the UDRS, system. Most of the Indian players are for UDRS, and the BCCI, favour it, take your blinkers off, the main reason the BCCI, don`t want to use UDRS, is a selfish little man, obsessed with averages, S R Tendulkar. Once he retires, i can guarantee the BCCI, will be in favour of the UDRS. I was a young Aussie`, teenager, when WSC, started, it changed Cricket on TV forever, and i have too thank, Tony Grieg, Ian Chappell, Richie Benaud, and Bill Lawry, for that. It also took Cricket, from a poorly managed, Amateurish, game, to a professionally managed, professional Sport, and i thank Kerry Packer, for this.

  • POSTED BY on | June 30, 2012, 1:12 GMT

    "his final confession on the subject".. A Mark says this should have been a confession on his part.. And as the good book says.."let those who have not sinned throw the first stone"

  • POSTED BY on | June 29, 2012, 17:58 GMT

    perhaps 20 years later, mark nicholas can say the exact same thing about IPL, except the names would change to sachin,lee, steyn etc.

  • POSTED BY SteveBooth96 on | June 29, 2012, 14:01 GMT

    @yavaid - what Tony Greig did wasn't greed in the same way that it's not greedy if someone who is hungry eats. If someone who is full continues to eat, that is greed. Tony Greig was guarding against future hunger, the BCCI is not.

  • POSTED BY crick_sucks on | June 29, 2012, 8:58 GMT

    Harsha has given a fitting reply to you and your kind. Well said Harsha!!!

  • POSTED BY gandabhai on | June 29, 2012, 8:47 GMT

    Some people want DRS , some people want to constantly kick India , What i want are better decisions across the board so that each and every team is given FAIR decisions all of the time .THAT SHOULD BE THE PRIMARY GOAL .Every thing else should be geared towards achieving that goal .If you ask most Indians, they would back these words .

  • POSTED BY Ashish_514 on | June 29, 2012, 8:34 GMT

    Since Mark Nicholas didn't extend his view to rest of the lecture where Tony Greig criticized IPL. I suppose he doesn't agree with Tony on those matters. And if he does, then it indeed is a hypocrisy. I am not a big fan of IPL, neither do I think WSC was any good, not at least for test cricket which Tony is suddenly so concerned about. If you liked that circus, you can't disagree with this one.

  • POSTED BY Riderstorm on | June 29, 2012, 7:50 GMT

    To everybody who is spitting fire on BCCI for its refusal of DRS, try reading the article by Bhogle, eventhough a little biased brings out the aspects hindering the acceptance. 1. DRS is costly, barring the rich boards others have to depend on ICC or Advertisers for funds, ICC is dead against such funding. 2. Funding aside, if everybody wanted DRS so badly, they could've isolated BCCI aside and got it instead of abstaining from a vote. Because, they want BCCI money. 3.IPL, look after your cricketers and ask them to stay away from it. NOC is a must isn't it.

    Stop blaming only one board, everybody on ICC and other cricketing boards are bunch of hypocrites.

  • POSTED BY g.narsimha on | June 29, 2012, 2:35 GMT

    BCCI pl agree for DRS , ICC must make it compulsory in all matches but the indidual boards must bear the expenses , the icc should not pay a single penny to any board on this account. so all this hue & cry over DRS can be put on rest .

  • POSTED BY thefountain on | June 28, 2012, 22:39 GMT

    Going over the WSC records. Tony Greig had a tough time of it. Just too much pace. There is also a TV showing hitting Australian screens soon about this episode in Cricket History. Paul "Crocodile Dundee" Hogan was a prime mover to.

  • POSTED BY KarmatBaig on | June 28, 2012, 21:22 GMT

    Talking of loyalty of Indian players during WSC only Gavaskar and Vishwanth worth mentioning others were just useless.

  • POSTED BY Mutukisna on | June 28, 2012, 18:07 GMT

    Watching Barry Richards, Viv Richards and Greg Chappel, perform on the same arena was an awesome sight. Those were the days my friend! All International cricketers since then owe an immense debt of gratitude to Tony Greig and Kerry Packer for changing the face of cricket and improving their lot.

  • POSTED BY couchpundit on | June 28, 2012, 17:56 GMT

    @SteveBooth96 - If what IPL stars are doing is GREED, then undeniably Mr.Bigmouth Tony Greig did was Greed even more so he recruited players who were in their prime just to secure his financial future.

    So tony greig has no grounds to grumble about IPL and its participants. The only Grudge Mr.Greig has is his inability to participate in the tournament in any capacity because of his Participation with ICL, kind of kerry packer thing in India. Ofcourse shallow people wouldnt know about it.

    FYI!! BCCI has been financially sound since early 2000's and not just because of IPL. IPL just doubled its Income.

  • POSTED BY GreenGoat on | June 28, 2012, 17:38 GMT

    No one's saying players should not benefit - then or now. what Greig said was that the BCCI has an obligation towards the well being of the game. BCCi shud not put money and petty concerns before everything else.

  • POSTED BY kabe_ag7 on | June 28, 2012, 17:18 GMT

    @SteveBooth96 - "There is no limit to the greed of those involved in the IPL". Why do you begrudge so many players earning money? (including many domestic Indian players who otherwise have half as much financial security as Tony Greig had)

  • POSTED BY Tusker17 on | June 28, 2012, 16:23 GMT

    Nothing on earth is a 100% ! Hoping for this is idiocy of the highest order ! If the technology is there, might as bloody well use it! If it helps umpires make 5 bad decissions vs. 10 bad ones, by all means then..... The process of shooting themselves in the foot has already begun for India, infact it began 6 years ago.....! This is what happens when certain people do not know their place. BCCI may have tonnes of money to throw around and get their way all the time but that does'nt mean the BCCI and its business partners know whats best for the betterment of the game! ICC is nothing but a big fat JOKE !!!!

  • POSTED BY Nutcutlet on | June 28, 2012, 16:09 GMT

    Professional cricketers have much to thank Greig for. He was the agent through whom professional cricketers became properly rewarded for their skills and dedication. As Mark Nicholas points out, £210 for a Test appearance for a rich country like England hardly represented a fortune in 1979, even allowing for inflation that would equate to only £838 today. Putting it bluntly, a feudal system operated prior to Packer & WSC & cricketers were the serfs - & totally screwed. Many cricketers who were qualified in other fields simply left the professional game because the rewards inside it were so wretched. Those were the days when the county pro looked to his Benefit to secure his future - and tough luck if the match was rained off. Of course, Greig was securing his own future financially; it was a no-brainer. There is, however, a distinction between financial security and obscene wealth - and we all know of those who are now earning far too much and behaving like spoilt brats.

  • POSTED BY sportofpain on | June 28, 2012, 16:08 GMT

    This is hypocrisy at its best. WSC was ok but IPL is not. Pray how? Oh I get it - IPL is in India. How ridiculous of them to think they could do something like papa Kerry who was so generous.

    Oh and for the record, not a single Indian played in WSC - they stayed loyal and the BCCI has looked after them - then and now. Sunny, Vishy et al were made offers but stayed loyal - the country came first for them.

  • POSTED BY Yagga175 on | June 28, 2012, 15:56 GMT

    Greigy gets an unfair press, frankly for WSC and the "Grovel" remark. He was a fine player and inspirational captain who picked up English cricket from the lows of 74/75 and gave it confidence again. I don't blame him or the other players from going to WSC because they were treated appallingly by the various boards. Swanton's awful comment about him not being a true Englishman said more about him and the other "establishment" nabobs - and by the way what about Knott, Underwood and Amiss?? As for "The Goanna" I agree with Mark that he cared far more deeply for cricket than people realised and weren't we ALL fed up with a camera pointed at the batsman's arse. I never saw WSC in the flesh but hear or read comments by those who played and you cannot miss the intensity and combative nature - too many fast bowlers?? Yes but boy were they good and do you think that any team playing traditional tests wouldn't have fielded them.

    And as for WSC - well "Yagga" Rowe 175 at VFL Park! Class man!

  • POSTED BY KarmatBaig on | June 28, 2012, 15:17 GMT

    Every individual as a professional or sportsman wants security of job for future as such if Greig went to WSC he did noting wrong. Lots better than having contacts with bookies like almost all players have these days and making illegal money and being disloyal to their team and country. Greig and Packer with WSC have brought revolution to world cricket and ICC has also approved night Test cricket which was started in WSC along with the colored clothing being adopted by all countries in one day cricket.

  • POSTED BY on | June 28, 2012, 15:11 GMT

    what i feel about TONY is, i can listen to his fascinating voice talking about cricket any time in the day

  • POSTED BY on | June 28, 2012, 14:59 GMT

    Well what he did with his involvement in ICL... really and truly in 'Spirit of Cricket'!...and what's more he did not think he should clarify that...I may not be as wise as you guys are....but fortunately, i am far enough from you people to see from the distance that its money he was always after.... which he could not make with IPL. Its not all wrong what he suggested but he put it in such a way as if it is India where all is wrong. Anyways Tony is a great guy and a very good commentator, cheers!

  • POSTED BY tusharkardile on | June 28, 2012, 14:51 GMT

    Good article Mark. Those who haven't questioned Tony's integrity aren't going to question yours. And those who have... well more than half of their comments will not be published!

  • POSTED BY Vilander on | June 28, 2012, 14:22 GMT

    I had lots of respect for him before i knew how he felt about India.

  • POSTED BY KTiwari on | June 28, 2012, 14:07 GMT

    Lame attempt Mark. You are putting a distorted picture....

  • POSTED BY a133936 on | June 28, 2012, 13:36 GMT

    Quoting Tony Grieg: "I'm nearly 31 and probably two or three Test failures from being dropped by England....... If you guarantee me a job for life working for your organization, I will sign." So Mr. Greig, you went to Packer to secure your financial future BECAUSE you were about done with your international/national career but what about the players you secertly recruited? Were all of them done with their careers? Some of them were at their peak.... and lost 2 golden years of their career to Packer circus. For example; Viv Richards, Imran Khan, Greg Chappell, Holding, Lillee, Roberts, Asif Iqbal, Majid Khan, Greenidge, Zaheer Abbas ... to name a few. Australia, West Indies and Pakistan were the best sides at that time.... and fans were robbed of high quality cricket. Who can forget Pak vs Aus test match at Sydney in 1977?

    You were just being selfish just like BCCI is being selfish right now.

  • POSTED BY jb633 on | June 28, 2012, 12:50 GMT

    @Satyam Kumar, I can also see the certain degree of hypocrisy in this article. Players in the modern game are generally considered merchants if they sacrifice any other cricket to go an play in the IPL. The IPL seems to be the modern version of the WSC but is highly unpopular. I think the only difference is that players in most countries do earn a very good salary. However, cricketers from NZ and WI would be stupid to turn down the IPL money, of course people have to look at their financial wellbeing. I think IPL should have a window March- April and all players from all countries should be involved. The reason I hate it is that it is taking the edge off international cricket, which is the greatest thing in the game. The IPL and international cricket would benefit from the IPL having a window.

  • POSTED BY Reggaecricket on | June 28, 2012, 12:38 GMT

    Do you mean to say that Greig gave up the England Captaincy to do something that he KNEW was going to benefit the game on the long run? That his association with WSC was NOT money driven? IMHO this article is meant to do some damage control as Greig's remarks are bound to anger many Indian fans! I don't disagree with what he said about the BCCI, but it's a little hypocritical coming from Tony Greig!

  • POSTED BY Noman_Yousuf_Dandore on | June 28, 2012, 12:28 GMT

    Brilliant articulation Mark; as always! And then there's so much to be read between the lines too; thanks for writing it for Tony. Cheers!

  • POSTED BY SteveBooth96 on | June 28, 2012, 11:56 GMT

    To all the people comparing what Tony Greig did to what he has been lamenting in his speech - there is a HUGE difference between financial security and obscene wealth. There is no limit to the greed of those involved in the IPL, Tony Greig was just worried he wouldn't be able to look after his family.

  • POSTED BY notgeoff on | June 28, 2012, 10:32 GMT

    I had VHS cassettes filled with cricket from the 80's on which I grew up, and I was only born in '83. 99% of the cricketers I knew about when I was 8, 9 and 10 were from stories that my dad had told me and from reading cricketing almanacs from as far back as the 1940's. While my friends were talking about Jonty Rhodes and Brian McMillan, I was wondering how they would fare against Sir Garfield Sobers. When I think of Sobers, today, I still get goosebumps and remember a story that my father read to me about his First Class debut. And then I remember a story about some coaches testing the underarm roley-poley that Chappell bowled against New Zealand against Graeme Pollock to see what he would do. He waltzed down the pitch with his bat raised high, flicked the ball up with his toes and unceremoniously dispatched out of the park. I don't even know if that story is true, but I don't mind. Now-a-days I think of some players as great, and still wonder how they would fare against the greats.

  • POSTED BY Chris_P on | June 28, 2012, 10:29 GMT

    Yes Greig set himself up financially, but he was also the leading light in getting better player conditions, in fact he was the player's representaive for WSC board meetings. The comparison with Gayle is irrelevent. Gayle was earning a decent amount from cricket, enough to set himself up, whereas test cricketers pre WSC usually had full time jobs and played cricket for the love of the game. Even the "professionals" in county cricket. although paid well, could never set themselves up for life after cricket, the player benefits were set up for this reason. Later years, Packer revealed how much Grieg contributed to the signing of almost all the top world cricketers, and Packer never forgot about it either, he was a very generous man to people who were loyal to him. It is almost hard to believe it was 35 years ago.

  • POSTED BY SirWilliam on | June 28, 2012, 10:18 GMT

    2929paul - I take your point but: Botham (66 wickets, 100th in the bowling averages, and one century, 71st in the batting averages, in the 1976 first-class season) had not yet been above the ordinary and, as for England, I deliberately used the word "Test". In those two ODIs in 1976 Botham scored 21 runs at 10.5 and took 2 wickets whilst leaking runs at 9.5 per over, a huge rate in those days. He went on the 1976/1977 winter tour but failed to get into the side. I still maintain that, with such scant evidence, Greig was stretching a point to reinforce his precarious position. I don't believe his crystal ball was quite that good!

  • POSTED BY CricFin on | June 28, 2012, 10:12 GMT

    So he went to WSC to secure his financial future ?

  • POSTED BY on | June 28, 2012, 10:08 GMT

    Great lyrical tribute for WSC. Sadly, nothing more than that. Mark, with all his wonderful skills, could be writing more on contemporary matters.

  • POSTED BY on | June 28, 2012, 9:51 GMT

    So TonY Greig did right. But Chris Gayle is doing wrong. What a joke article.

  • POSTED BY Ajay02 on | June 28, 2012, 9:33 GMT

    Nice article. How the time has changed? Packer circus changed all and now IPL has dominated the proceedings. Who would have thought about DRS and helmets? its Doni, Sachin,Sehwags now.

  • POSTED BY hems4cric on | June 28, 2012, 9:30 GMT

    oh!! So TG joined WSG for the security of his family...he wanted money...ok...but what about the country and spirit of cricket? oh he was doing it so it was fine.. Hypocrisy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • POSTED BY on | June 28, 2012, 9:27 GMT

    hahaha.....tony greig was looking for a security and now he talks of indian cricket board as the culprit for taking cricket off the right track..... Every person wants to earn money young and then preach that money is evil when they grow old as the saying goes "every saint had a past"

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | June 28, 2012, 9:26 GMT

    Is this another article to try and justify England's hoard of South Africans? Keep clutching at those straws, Mark.

  • POSTED BY satish619chandar on | June 28, 2012, 9:23 GMT

    In the fear of dropping, Tony moved to get a settled life? So Gayle is now older than what Tony was.. is he having the same feeling? When Sachin and Hussey were "rested" for a single game in Australia, Tony said - Spectators were deprieved of quality cricket.. But Greg though he knew that he can't represent the original England cricket team went out for a living.. but still, it isn't for money? If "If you guarantee me a job for life working for your organization, I will sign" is not for money that he will earn, is it for cricket? Then he could have easily gone to Essex and continued like Hick right?

  • POSTED BY Reverend-Cavalier on | June 28, 2012, 8:57 GMT

    I remember as a 12 year old when the first season of WSC was on, my cricket coach took our team to see Australia vs India as he was a traditionalist and couldn't bring himself to watch WSC. I remember thinking "Who is David Ogilvie ?" The next season, my brother took me to the SCG and I saw Garth le Roux trying to kill Greg Chappell and I loved it. Dennis Lillee was an absolute God and I always loved watching Ian Cappell. WSC gave me a real love of the game and I recall with great fondness the matches. Highlight was seeing Barry Richards after I had read and heard so much about him.

  • POSTED BY 2929paul on | June 28, 2012, 8:48 GMT

    @ SirWilliam - Botham may not have played Tests until 1977 but he made his ODI debut in 1976 under Greig, had had an excellent all round season for Somerset in 1976 as a 20 year old and was clearly next off the rank. I think Greig knew a bit about all rounders and clearly he was right! I remember feeling a bit cheated as a young English boy in the 1978-79 years watching and listening to England crush weak Australia, Pakistan and New Zealand teams, knowing that better, more exciting cricket was being played elsewhere. I not only missed out on seeing it, it wasn't even reported on here. When England went to Aus in 79/80 where WI were also playing Aus, it was just fantastic to be able to watch the best players in the world again, even though England were getting crushed.

  • POSTED BY on | June 28, 2012, 8:36 GMT

    I m Great fan of Tony geigs Commentary and his passion ,Knowledge about the game reflect in his Comments.As A cricketter I dont know about his game as I born way after his Playing days.But his coments,Prediction as of highest value

  • POSTED BY 9ST9 on | June 28, 2012, 8:13 GMT

    Regardless of his point of view there is a sense of drama in Nicholas's writing as well as his commentary. there is exaggeration but then that is part of what makes his writing beautiful.

  • POSTED BY SirWilliam on | June 28, 2012, 7:06 GMT

    Greig signed for Packer in the Spring of 1977. This was before Botham had played Test cricket for England. Nobody, Greig included, knew at that stage that Botham was going to become a great cricketer.

  • POSTED BY Stieprox on | June 28, 2012, 5:59 GMT

    when Tony Greig joined WSC it brought a sea change in cricket and obviously it led to a revolution in cricket forever.I am a huge admirer of Tony Greig.

  • POSTED BY S.h.a.d.a.b on | June 28, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    Later when world series cricket was became B&H WSC, and when i was in my teen-age, Benson & Hedges world series cricket was the biggest passion and in Pakistan, we rarely seen few matches in the 80s (Thanks to PTV) but after arrival of sattelite television we saw many more, those matches are still my biggest attraction and you tube is the best source of that. Thanks for bringing back memories of greatest game when it was at its peak.

  • POSTED BY hornet18 on | June 28, 2012, 4:12 GMT

    Growing up in North Queensland we never actually saw any WSC matches on the Television but the frenzy whipped up by it gave me the cricket bug.I will never forget the first game after the truce with the ACB and riding my bike home from Primary School knowing that I wouldl be watching Dennis Lillee, Greg Chappell and Viv Richards. That excitement has never left me and it came from the popularisation of cricketers for kids of my age at the time through WSC - whether we had seen it or not. Thanks Kerry Packer and thanks Tony Greig as my lifelong love of cricket began on the back of the WSC juggernaut.

  • POSTED BY on | June 28, 2012, 3:53 GMT

    Mark Nicholas is one of the finest cricket writers in the world. Stunning prose. He had me eating out of his hand with his David Bowie tie-ins. Brilliant!

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • POSTED BY on | June 28, 2012, 3:53 GMT

    Mark Nicholas is one of the finest cricket writers in the world. Stunning prose. He had me eating out of his hand with his David Bowie tie-ins. Brilliant!

  • POSTED BY hornet18 on | June 28, 2012, 4:12 GMT

    Growing up in North Queensland we never actually saw any WSC matches on the Television but the frenzy whipped up by it gave me the cricket bug.I will never forget the first game after the truce with the ACB and riding my bike home from Primary School knowing that I wouldl be watching Dennis Lillee, Greg Chappell and Viv Richards. That excitement has never left me and it came from the popularisation of cricketers for kids of my age at the time through WSC - whether we had seen it or not. Thanks Kerry Packer and thanks Tony Greig as my lifelong love of cricket began on the back of the WSC juggernaut.

  • POSTED BY S.h.a.d.a.b on | June 28, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    Later when world series cricket was became B&H WSC, and when i was in my teen-age, Benson & Hedges world series cricket was the biggest passion and in Pakistan, we rarely seen few matches in the 80s (Thanks to PTV) but after arrival of sattelite television we saw many more, those matches are still my biggest attraction and you tube is the best source of that. Thanks for bringing back memories of greatest game when it was at its peak.

  • POSTED BY Stieprox on | June 28, 2012, 5:59 GMT

    when Tony Greig joined WSC it brought a sea change in cricket and obviously it led to a revolution in cricket forever.I am a huge admirer of Tony Greig.

  • POSTED BY SirWilliam on | June 28, 2012, 7:06 GMT

    Greig signed for Packer in the Spring of 1977. This was before Botham had played Test cricket for England. Nobody, Greig included, knew at that stage that Botham was going to become a great cricketer.

  • POSTED BY 9ST9 on | June 28, 2012, 8:13 GMT

    Regardless of his point of view there is a sense of drama in Nicholas's writing as well as his commentary. there is exaggeration but then that is part of what makes his writing beautiful.

  • POSTED BY on | June 28, 2012, 8:36 GMT

    I m Great fan of Tony geigs Commentary and his passion ,Knowledge about the game reflect in his Comments.As A cricketter I dont know about his game as I born way after his Playing days.But his coments,Prediction as of highest value

  • POSTED BY 2929paul on | June 28, 2012, 8:48 GMT

    @ SirWilliam - Botham may not have played Tests until 1977 but he made his ODI debut in 1976 under Greig, had had an excellent all round season for Somerset in 1976 as a 20 year old and was clearly next off the rank. I think Greig knew a bit about all rounders and clearly he was right! I remember feeling a bit cheated as a young English boy in the 1978-79 years watching and listening to England crush weak Australia, Pakistan and New Zealand teams, knowing that better, more exciting cricket was being played elsewhere. I not only missed out on seeing it, it wasn't even reported on here. When England went to Aus in 79/80 where WI were also playing Aus, it was just fantastic to be able to watch the best players in the world again, even though England were getting crushed.

  • POSTED BY Reverend-Cavalier on | June 28, 2012, 8:57 GMT

    I remember as a 12 year old when the first season of WSC was on, my cricket coach took our team to see Australia vs India as he was a traditionalist and couldn't bring himself to watch WSC. I remember thinking "Who is David Ogilvie ?" The next season, my brother took me to the SCG and I saw Garth le Roux trying to kill Greg Chappell and I loved it. Dennis Lillee was an absolute God and I always loved watching Ian Cappell. WSC gave me a real love of the game and I recall with great fondness the matches. Highlight was seeing Barry Richards after I had read and heard so much about him.

  • POSTED BY satish619chandar on | June 28, 2012, 9:23 GMT

    In the fear of dropping, Tony moved to get a settled life? So Gayle is now older than what Tony was.. is he having the same feeling? When Sachin and Hussey were "rested" for a single game in Australia, Tony said - Spectators were deprieved of quality cricket.. But Greg though he knew that he can't represent the original England cricket team went out for a living.. but still, it isn't for money? If "If you guarantee me a job for life working for your organization, I will sign" is not for money that he will earn, is it for cricket? Then he could have easily gone to Essex and continued like Hick right?