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It’s a terrible news and it made my day a very sad one. Tony Greig was a towering figure — in every sense — as a cricketer and cricket commentator. But more than that he was a dear friend of mine. I knew he was battling cancer, but I didn’t realise he would leave us so soon.
Tony was a fantastic cricketer. He started as a medium pacer but improved his batting so much that he became a genuine all-rounder. And he was inspirational as a captain.
Tony played his cricket as fiercely as anybody, but he played it fair and square. He was always the first to applaud when his opponents reached a milestone. I still remember the way he carried me in his arms after I scored my second Test century at the Brabourne Stadium during the 1972-73 series. The crowd went delirious. Little wonder then that he enjoyed such popularity in these parts of the world.
Tony also had a big impact in changing world cricket. Without his effort Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket wouldn’t have been possible. He acted as a liaison between Packer and the cricketers and convinced everybody that they were doing this to safeguard players’ interests. World Series Cricket was a movement that changed the game.
Tony was a great raconteur and had an amazing collection of stories. Don Bradman was his idol and everytime we met off the field, he used to tell me stories about the great man.
Finally, I must say something about Tony the commentator. He was wonderful with his loud voice and his insight to the game. He always connected with the fans. Without him, cricket commentary will never be the same again.
(As told to Shamik Chakrabarty)