Mark Nicholas
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Former Hampshire batsman; host of Channel 9's cricket coverage

A battle of allrounders, captains, coaches and quick men

The Australia-South Africa series is one to make cricket lovers everywhere sit up. One man in particular

Mark Nicholas

November 1, 2012

Comments: 42 | Text size: A | A

Michael Clarke enjoyed a fruitful day in the field, Western Australia v New South Wales, Sheffield Shield, Perth, day one
Michael Clarke's instinct for attack may give him the edge over Graeme Smith © Getty Images

For the first time in more than 30 years, the Australian summer of cricket will begin without Tony Greig at the microphone. His illness is well enough documented, though no less shocking for it. He hopes to work again during the summer but right now the big fella has his nose to the grindstone that is the dreaded C word.

It is especially poignant that the South Africans are in Australia. Greig will have the television on when the first ball is delivered at the Gabba, and his heart will be with the land of his birth. You can take the man out of Africa but there is no taking Africa out of the man. Immigrant Southern Africans have strongholds in Perth, Sydney, and much of Queensland, where a community of Zimbabweans has settled of late. Support from them and others has given him strength. Calls and mail from myriad Australians - Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson among them - have lifted his spirit. Battles of bat and ball leave respect as their legacy. From this can come surprising friendship.

Australians do not give easy ground. Greig has played devil's advocate in the Channel 9 commentary box for as long as anyone cares to remember, taunting his great friend Bill Lawry, in particular, to a catalogue of memorable exchanges that have built the folklore of Channel 9's coverage of the game. It is a part he relishes. But Australia is home. He neither forgets this nor is anything but grateful for it. Indeed, he would not swap the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney for the world. There may be an element of love/hate to his on-screen relationship with Australian audiences but, in truth, the suggestion of hate is more vaudeville than fact. Greigy is a much-loved part of the landscape.

Only two cricketers to have played a significant number of Tests have averaged better than 40 with the bat and 33 with the ball. It's a good trivia question, and no, neither Sir Garfield nor Sir Ian is the right answer. And not Imran Khan, Kapil Dev or Keith Miller either. Jacques Kallis is one - which, given his weight of runs, wickets and catches, rather supports the case that he is among the two or three finest cricketers to have played the game. AW Greig is the other.

Greig went to England in the late 1960s, playing first for Sussex and soon for England. The qualification came from his Scottish father and it worked well enough for both parties, to the point to which he became a charismatic and forthright captain of his first adopted country. After Kerry Packer's lightning hijack of the game, very much with Greig at his side, these attributes were brought to the commentary box and have not wavered since. It will irk him that a South African series may be missed. Particularly one featuring such a good side as this and, more particularly still, one in which he can lick his lips at the fast bowlers on view. Greigy sure likes seeing it whistling past a few ears.

Certainly South Africa come well equipped for an opening Test match in Brisbane. The Gabba is the fastest and bounciest pitch in the world, but - a but that matters - if the weather is good, it becomes a lovely, even surface for batsmen. So now may be the moment for Imran Tahir to repay the investment. Pretty much the minute he qualified, the South African selectors ticked a few boxes and welcomed him aboard. Now, after 28 wickets in ten Tests at 40 apiece, he can begin to say thank you. As everyone will tell you, Shane Warne loved to bowl at the Gabba, but few other spinners have found such peace with a ground that exposes the ordinary for what it is.

Kallis is cold, clinical, unemotional. Watson is tough enough, intelligent, but yet to finish the job in the way his talent demands

More likely, the series will be driven by the impression of the two allrounders. Kallis brings a full hand to every match he plays. His standards and performance remain as relevant to the present team as they were when he first toured Australia 15 years ago. During the recent English summer he was still the cog around which Graeme Smith turned the wheel of his team, claiming wickets when others could find nothing, holding wonderful catches, and making runs if they mattered.

Ergo Shane Watson. Similar cricketers but different characters. Kallis is cold, clinical, unemotional. Watson is tough enough, intelligent, but yet to finish the job in the way his talent demands. This may simply be about concentration or it may be insecurity. If the Australian camp can make Watson believe he is the cricketer he truly is - a mindset given to few, incidentally - and if they encourage him towards something of Greig's chutzpah, the contest between the best two all-round cricketers of the moment may define the series.

Greig's other interest will be in the captains. Fanciful as it may seem, the celebrated 9 commentary team of Richie Benaud, Ian Chappell, Lawry and Greig has helped shape Australian cricket. Generous enthusiasm and a deep knowledge of the game have combined with an inherent instinct to play brightly and without fear. If this was not Lawry's way on the field, it has certainly become his mantra off it. By the drip drip of their attitude and direction over the 35 years that 9 has had the television rights, these four formidable former captains have offered Australian cricketers at all levels a way forward.

Michael Clarke would endorse this idea. His cricket is very much from the school of Channel 9. He has a close relationship with Warne and friendships with Mark Taylor, Michael Slater, Ian Chappell and Greig. Attacking instincts have served him well thus far and could give him an edge over the more naturally conservative Graeme Smith. Not that Smith has stood still. In England he threw away caution more often than previously. Gary Kirsten, the coach, may be behind this.

And therein lies the final match-up that will catch Greig's attention - Kirsten v Mickey Arthur. Thoughtful fellows of comparative upbringing who let the captain take the box seat. Kirsten is working with his own people, Arthur with another's. Advantage Kirsten perhaps. They are good men and worth watching closely.

Two coaches, two captains, two allrounders, a rich bag of fast bowlers and a leggie - these are the cricket people that Tony Greig will first cast an eye over next Thursday morning. He will miss not being in situ; the commentary box is a second home. For now, though, he must attend to other business. The cricketers should, at the very least, least bring a smile to his face.

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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by AzAb12754 on (November 4, 2012, 23:34 GMT)

@Meety: I just checked the stats of Kallis bowling or batting and his stats against Zimbabwe or Bangladesh are not much different to teams like India or Australia meaning he even struggled against the likes of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh at times :P

Posted by AzAb12754 on (November 4, 2012, 23:29 GMT)

@popcorn: "World" Championship??? - The 'World' doesn't play Test Cricket mate not even close you mean 8 team Championship cheers :D

Posted by   on (November 4, 2012, 19:01 GMT)

it thnk ths will a tightly contested series as the Aussies r playin in their backyard. from wht ive heard, the pitches frm down under will have pace and bounce so tht means batsmen will struggle a bit because of the pace n swing frm the likes of steyn, morkel, philander, pattison, hilfenhaus n starc

Posted by popcorn on (November 4, 2012, 16:12 GMT)

This is really the World Championship of Test Cricket. Wish there could be a return series immediately like there was in 2009.

Posted by hhillbumper on (November 3, 2012, 11:47 GMT)

South Africa will win this one.Aussie just aren't any good.

Posted by Bollo on (November 2, 2012, 12:42 GMT)

@neuen. Again I fail to understand the need to demean someone`s performances so as to support a case of x vs y. Surely Sobers` 365 - a world record set by a 21-year-old that stood for 35 years deserves some praise.

In answer to your question, one great bowler who played for Pakistan in 58/59, and during the record-breaking innings, was Fazal Mahmood - overall 139 wickets in 34 tests at 25, including 41 in 8 tests against the Windies in 58/59.

As for the great Indian bowlers Sobers played against - Mankad, Gupte, Bedi, Venkat, Prasanna ring any bells?

And England - probably the best team for most of Sobers`s career, against whom he averaged 60 with the bat, and took over 100 wickets at 32 with the ball - Lock, Laker, Snow, Underwood, Trueman, Barrington, Edrich Boycott, Knott, Cowdrey?

Apart from anything else, he`s been arguably the 2nd greatest batsmen of all-time, and walks into an all-time World XI on that alone.

Posted by jonesy2 on (November 2, 2012, 9:34 GMT)

i like greigy not just because he, bill and richie have been the voices of summer for so long but because he clearly loves australia and the aussie cricket team and wishes he was australian even though he was born in sth africa and captained england. as far as the series goes it is too even to call and it will be whoever plays better throughout the days. homeground and mickey arthur are advantages to australia so by that token australia should win it i predict 2-1 to australia with the last test in perth (i hope i attend) to be the decider

Posted by AdieVed on (November 2, 2012, 5:51 GMT)

Amazing that Doug Walters only misses out by virtue of taking 49 test wickets, not 50.... Otherwise, he's your number 3!

Posted by Witty_Cricketer on (November 2, 2012, 4:36 GMT)

@Taij Chand, Lyon and Warner may not be typical Test players, but I dont see you referred Pattinson here, the guy has taken 26 wickets in 5 tests at 18.96, if that is not a very good start, I dont know what is.

Posted by Meety on (November 2, 2012, 1:14 GMT)

@Bollo - well said. S/Rates were a lot higher in the 60s for spinners & Sobers overall S/R compares favourably with spinners of the day like the Indian quartet. @bestbuddy on (November 01 2012, 09:21 AM GMT) - Kallis is a great undoubted. Just bear in mind that it was a lot harder getting LBWs back in Sobers day & the reality is, Sobers wickets per match is superior to Kallis, which therefor would indicate more reliance on his bowling. In an ODI or T20 - I could select Kallis for his bowling alone, but I wouldn't in a Test team. @Neuen on (November 01 2012, 13:09 PM GMT)- if you can't acknowledge that there were greats in every era - then there is something wrong! Degrading Sobers because he didn't play the Saffas is like bagging Kallis because he unreal stats against Bangladesh & Zimbabwe - ridiculous. Ask any cricket expert (players or commentators), who is the greatest allrounder in Test cricket - they'll say Sobers before kallis, would they pick Kallis for great batting - yes!

Posted by L4zybugg3r on (November 1, 2012, 23:57 GMT)

@bestbuddy - thankyou for the comment, I like how some other people are recognising that Kallis is at least challenging Sobers for best allrounder. Ok so there are some differences in their stats/playing conditions blah blah but there are also a lot of similarities. I'd prolly rate Sobers slightly ahead in batting due to the era and Kallis slightly ahead in bowling even though his bowling isn't quite what it used to be but his batting still seems rather strong (perhaps even getting better?). Anyway, I think some people may need to revisit the idea that Sobers is hands down the best allrounder.

Posted by FreddyForPrimeMinister on (November 1, 2012, 22:26 GMT)

@ Presenjeet Bhaskar on (November 01 2012, 18:27 PM GMT) - the comparison of Kallis with Tendulkar/Zaheer is an excellent one - confirming that Kallis is one of the greatest batsmen of all time (like SRT) but only a "very accomplished" bowler, like Zaheer. Whilst Zak has had his moments, his stats are not especially impressive - 291 Test match wickets at an average of a shade over 32, they are remarkably similar to Kallis with 280 Test wickets at 32.63. When you read all the comments from Indian supporters on here about how "great" Zaheer is, the fact that Kallis, who's regarded primarily as a batting all-rounder, matches him blow for blow really does confirm the South African as one of the top 2 or 3 greatest players in the history of the game. The guy's not a bad slip fielder either... ;)

Posted by GrindAR on (November 1, 2012, 22:01 GMT)

Not a mention of full time bowlers/batsmen from both teams. But you know what, these two folks deserve this kind of respect. They both are back bones of their respective teams. They truly and practically take the game of their own on all three departments (Batting, bowling and fielding). Captains may disagree, but they do it keep the team spirit at its best. That speaks a lot. Looking for a traditional and a inflicted rival test series. I hope all four teams as they hold the highest stakes lift the respect for test cricket, which it deserves. The beauty of cricket lies between the two wrist works, first bowling hands, where the ball come to life and batting hands where the destiny of the ball is negotiated. Hope we do not see intentional dead bat that refuse to enforce true contest.

Posted by   on (November 1, 2012, 20:35 GMT)

sobers played against the best. whether in test or county cricket. he faced all the great bowlers of the day.

Posted by   on (November 1, 2012, 18:27 GMT)

look folks! This man Kallis is a big colossus. To have played more than 150 tests spanning across a decade and half, is no mean achievement. Just imagine Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan combined together to form something like "Tenheer Khan". One would seldom come across something even slightly alluding Kallis being unfit, not bowling at his peak or not standing at his usual position as a castle-keeper with those "bucketing" hands. The very presence of him inspires awe. Frightening to even imagine really how would the cricket world look like once he decides to hang his boots up.

Posted by TaylorSwift on (November 1, 2012, 16:19 GMT)

Yes, some intriguing matchups to look out for during this series. The Aussies can snatch a win if their quicks bowl out of their skins. And since we are discussing some of the greatest cricketers of all-time, I will share my two cents. If I were to pick my all-time XI, I would select Imran Khan with my first pick (no disrespect to Bradman, Sobers and many other greats). As someone mentioned here earlier, Imran averaged 51 with the bat and 19 with the ball for a 10-year period. Any strike bowler who averages 50+ with the bat or any key batsman who averages 19 with the ball is a true match-winner. To top it off, he is perhaps the best captain of all-time.

Posted by   on (November 1, 2012, 15:09 GMT)

Well said Nicholas, but enough of building up the series. It is what it is ! The best team in Test Cricket versus a Test Team in decline, rated Number THREE OR FOUR, ( doesn't matter) and no more potential in its' arsenal. It will be a one sided affair. First Test will attrack many fans, but they will stay for the balance of the matches. Have SA to whitewash Australia. Come on ! Cowans,Warner,Wade, Lyons, Pattison - Test Cricketers ?????

Posted by zavahir on (November 1, 2012, 14:05 GMT)

Tony Greig will be missed by all cricket fans! Hope and pray for a speedy recovery.

Posted by SamRoy on (November 1, 2012, 14:02 GMT)

Mark you are wrong about bouncy pitches. Ever since Perth lost it steep bounce (it has regained the pace in the last couple of years and a bit of bounce and swing) Durban is the bounciest pitch in the world. It is pacy (but not too pacy, doesn't swing at all) but one gets uneven steep bounce because of the "Black Mamba".

Posted by FreddyForPrimeMinister on (November 1, 2012, 14:01 GMT)

Another lovely article, Mark. Tony Grieg's achievements as a cricketer have always appeared undervalued to me, especially given the great WI sides he faced in his era, not to mention the small matter of Messrs Lillee and Thompson! With the exception of Dale Steyn, today's batsmen have it pretty easy. Whilst cricket as a whole should thank Grieg and Packer for the revolution they started to make cricket as professional as it is now, there's no doubt that the bitterness felt by Grieg's departure from English cricket really buried the true worth of the man as a world class all rounder. Here's hoping he can use all that legendary fight to win his latest and greatest battle. Jem

Posted by Trapper439 on (November 1, 2012, 13:48 GMT)

@bestbuddy: Sobers wasn't "forced" to start bowling spin by encroaching age. He started his Test career as a left arm orthodox spinner who batted at number 9. It was only later that his batting and seam bowling talent gradually and yet spectacularly came to the fore.

Posted by Unomaas on (November 1, 2012, 13:25 GMT)

Whenever the Saffers and Aussies meet in test cricket, the atmosphere is electric! I always get the feeling that Australia is big brother and SA little brother and little brother is trying to prove himself to big brother. As a Saffa supporter, every other series or game is a sideshow until we get to play the Aussies. While I would venture to say that our team looks better on paper, I would never rule out a Australian team even if they were the lowest ranked! The best of enemies...thats what we are! So bring it on Assies! Let the contest of wills begin!

Posted by devil_in_details on (November 1, 2012, 13:14 GMT)

Best of luck to Tony Greig in his fight against cancer and may he win like Yuvi did. Indian fans would be in for a treat as from 9th of Nov till 17th of Dec there would be good quality Test cricket to enjoy from the two test series and their time zone gives them the advantage of conveniently viewing both. I know for sure that I will be up early morning to catch the action from Australia and I am sure many others would also be doing the exact same thing:)

Posted by Neuen on (November 1, 2012, 13:09 GMT)

@Bollo Sobers played in a time when there were no bowling restrictions such as no over rate limit nor bouncer limits.

Secondly Sobers had the best bowling attack playing on his side. Tell me who was the great bowlers who played for Pakistan between 1958 and 1959?

Who were the great bowlers who played for India in that era? How many legends did he face concerning pace bowling from those two countries where he averaged 80 against each.

Unfortunately due to political reasons and stupidity he never faced the other best bowling attack that was the South Africans who wiped Australia 3-1 and 4-0 .

Kallis faced the best in the game from Akram, Younis, McGrath, Warne, Murali and have played more nations

Posted by   on (November 1, 2012, 12:58 GMT)

@bestbuddy, brilliant comment. Nailed it. I'm not going to necessarily argue who the better bowler out of Imran, Sobers etc were, it is frankly speaking unlikely to be Kallis (who simply hasn't bowled enough, especially in the past few years, to be selected purely based on that), but his batting is so remarkable that overall, he is the top all rounder, and one of the all time greatest batsman. His fielding is also spectacular.

Posted by Nmiduna on (November 1, 2012, 12:21 GMT)

nice enough article mark(as usual), but i somehow feel watson still has a lot to prove, its hard to see him and kallis in the same ball park (pulp fiction anybody?). i think mathews from Sri Lanka has similar potential, but as with watson, he still has a long way to go.Good tribute to mr.Grieg as well. he loved Sri Lankans too..(now you know where i am coming from) and despite lack of chances for a level playing field and ipls rendering those chances even less, why would the likes of Sri Lankans(or for that matter pak), as a team, be less competitive?..(i'm speaking against all this hype and big-talk about 'quality' of cricket whenever there's a eng-sa-aus-ind series, after-all ind lost 4-0 to eng whereas sri lankans lost only one session of a 3 test series, right?)i think it all has to do with history and cricketing legacy these bigger nations have, but im almost sure sri lankans will give a tough time to aussies this summer!

Posted by Biophysicist on (November 1, 2012, 12:09 GMT)

I think you chose your cutoffs in a particular way to eliminate some great allrounders and include Grieg along with Kallis. If your batting average cutoff is increased to 45 and bowling average cutoff is raised to 35 then, Grieg will be eliminated and Garry Sobers and Ted Dexter will join Kallis. It is all in the filters you use!! If you want to show Grieg is better than others barring Kallis your cutoffs work. But otherwise, you can't put him alongside people like Sobers, Imran, Botham, Kapil and Hadlee, not to mention Kallis.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (November 1, 2012, 12:05 GMT)

I was looking forward to a 'Fortress Australia' article, please write one of those too. Thanks in advance.

Posted by varunrallapalli on (November 1, 2012, 11:30 GMT)

Arguably South Africa vs Australia cricket test matches are next only to The Ashes in terms of quality,obviously it is to be noted that India vs Pakistan are over-hyped due to political relations between two countries. Already we had a glimpse of what Shane Watson has got in him to offer to Australian cricket in the just concluded World T20 Cup and the Champions league. With consecutive man of the match awards to his credit and his sheer commitment to the team shone through out the Champions league. Taking about his counter-part Kallis, he is among Top 5 players ever to play the game.With Steyn, Morkel at his disposal South Africa's captain Graeme Smith would look even more-attacking than his counterpart Michael Clarke who has a bunch of rookies to to manage with. As far as coaching of the teams is concerned Mickey Arthur has a slight advantage over Gary Kirsten as he has a bit of inside knowledge of on-goings inside the dressing rooms of South Africa as he was with them in the past.

Posted by Meety on (November 1, 2012, 11:14 GMT)

@Dannov747 on (November 01 2012, 06:45 AM GMT) - yes, Kallis is a great batsmen who bowls quality. Khan & Miller could of been selected as strike bowlers or for their batting in the top 6. @Chris Bryant - I think Kallis's slips fielding is highly under-rated. He has about the safest mits in the business!

Posted by Bollo on (November 1, 2012, 11:05 GMT)

@bestbuddy. You`re obviously a big Kallis fan, but there are more than a few errors in your analysis...and also the sense that you have little appreciation for ,or understanding of, the mighty Sir Garfield Sobers.

Firstly, Kallis` bowling SR is 69, not 61. Secondly, far from being `forced` to bowl spin, that is how Sobers originally started in tests - as a 17-year-old left-arm orthodox bowler who could bat a bit - pace and chinamen were strings he would later add to his bow. He was forced to shoulder far more of the bowling burden than Kallis has (due to the nature/ability of their respective teams) and bowled in an era which produced comparatively quite as many 50 plus batting averages as Kallis`.

Sobers also played at least as much cricket as Kallis - his first class record of 28,000 runs and 1050 wickets, compares favorably to Kallis` 19,000 and 400.

No-one denies that Kallis has been a wonderful player. Is it necessary to try to demean a champion to try to prove your point?

Posted by   on (November 1, 2012, 9:43 GMT)

I think it is not true to characterize Kallis as unemotional. He is an incredibly emotional individual, but has the mental fortitude to keep them in check when he bats. You do see them emerge every now and then when he has the ball in his hand, and those occasions tend to coincide with the speed gun showing 140kmph+ (just to prove that he can still do it!). Kallis' career is incomparable. His longevity and the fact that at 37 is still considered a key part of the South African attack sets him apart. Finest 'cricketer' (all facets of the game including his character) to have played. But player comparisons are discussions, not debates!

Posted by bestbuddy on (November 1, 2012, 9:21 GMT)

@Dannov747, Kallis takes a wicket every 61 balls, Sobers could only manage every 91. Kallis has taken 50 wickets more despite bowling 2000 balls less. Sobers averages over 34, Kallis under 33. Who cares if he takes less than 2 wickets per test?? He bowls far less than Sobers did - but still weighs in with crucial breakthroughs. And lest I remind you, Sobers was forced to start bowling spin long before he reached 37, while Kallis is still capable of reaching 140kph+. Kallis has taken his wickets during a time when more batsmen averaged 50+ than at any other time in cricketing history, on flatter pitches, whereas Sobers had the advantage of playing on uncovered pitches when bowling and STILL could not manage to better Kallis's bowling stats. Kallis also plays far more cricket with far less rest, and with far less time to sort out technical difficulties

Posted by Hardy1 on (November 1, 2012, 9:15 GMT)

I think for the last 10 years of his career Imran averaged 50 with the bat and 19 with the ball, so if you're talking about an all rounder at his peak, I think he comes up trumps over Kallis, Kapil, Botham, Pollock & Hadlee, who I think have been the best all rounders of the last 30 years. Plus Imran was the best leader out of all of those great players. Never saw Sobers play but from what I hear, in terms of sheer talent and being able to do whatever he wanted to on the cricket pitch, he was the best (and I hear this so often that it makes the notion of it being a romantic choice less likely).

Posted by Dannov747 on (November 1, 2012, 6:45 GMT)

Kallis gets less than two wickets per test. While he is a great player, he is nowhere in the same league as Sobers and Bradman, who were the two finest players. I'd say that Imran Khan and Miller were both better allrounders as well.

That said, his batting is brilliant, and with Amla, Smith and De Villiers as well, South Africa are a way better batting side. Their pace attack is better as well, but given that Aus batting is so below par, whatever win will have to be delivered by their bowlers. Looking forward to see Cummins, Starc and Pattinson perform well.

Posted by sifter132 on (November 1, 2012, 6:19 GMT)

Nice stuff Nicho. Wonder if 9 will take this chance to employ a commentator from the opposition? Been a long time since we heard Holding, Gower, Gavaskar etc. feature when their nations were touring. Only Ian Smith springs to mind of late. Adds some light hearted banter to the commentary, and gives that fresh perspective from the other side. Hopefully we can hear a Saffer in the box for this series!

Posted by stormy16 on (November 1, 2012, 6:09 GMT)

This article is like fried rice - bits and pieces of everything mixed togeather - tasty all the same, but you havent been able to get a mouthful of anything in particular. Interesting piont about Greig and Kallis's averages and really there should be no comparison to Kallis other than Sorbers - Botham, Imran, Dev and Hadlee are worthy also rans in this race but Kallis is up there with Bradman as once in a life time player. Waston can get there but has a long way to go and he already has a major issue - Kallis hardly ever misses test match or bowl due to injury. For Watson to have a shot he must first be able to get on the park and bowl, which he is already struggling to do. Agreed though they could have a telling effect on this series.

Posted by Brijesh_Gupta on (November 1, 2012, 5:50 GMT)

Thank you Mr.Nicholas for a wonderful foreword to a lip-smacking contest in prospect.Eagerly looking forward to it.My thoughts and wishes to Tony Greig.

Posted by AtifSubhani on (November 1, 2012, 5:34 GMT)

One of the finest commentators and writers, Mark Nicholas - You are fantastic. I just love to read whatever you write.

Posted by Meety on (November 1, 2012, 4:49 GMT)

Tony Greig should phone in when Lawry is commentating & give him a gobful - surely a laugh would help! Hope he comes out on top.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (November 1, 2012, 4:30 GMT)

Till you keep winning, people will talk about things like instinct to describe captains who are on a winning streak. Once they start losing, Mark, all those adjectives get burried. Then the same tribe seek to analyse what went wrong. M S Dhoni could do no wrong in his first 3 years at the helm. Then he started losing badly and the world around him just collapsed. This series will be the acid test for Pup.

Posted by   on (November 1, 2012, 4:09 GMT)

Sincerely hope Tony Greig recovers from his ailment and is back in the commentary box at the earliest. South Africa should show the world they are champions by beating Aussies to pulp.

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Mark Nicholas A prolific and stylish middle-order batsman for Hampshire, Mark Nicholas was unlucky never to have played for England, but after captaining his county to four major trophies he made his reputation as a presenter, commentator and columnist. Named the UK Sports Presenter of the Year in 2001 and 2005 by the Royal Television Society, he has commentated all over the world, from the World Cup in the West Indies to the Indian Premier League. He now hosts the cricket coverage for Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in England.

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