Tributes paid to Tony Greig

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The ECB has paid tribute to the former England captain and Sussex cricketer Tony Greig, whose passing was announced earlier today at the age of 66.

Born in South Africa on 6 October 1946, Greig moved to England and trialled for Sussex in 1965.

He played 58 Test matches and 22 one-day internationals for England between 1972 and 1977 and was also named as a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1975.

ECB Chief Executive David Collier commented: “Tony Greig was an extremely talented all-round cricketer and captain. He was a giant of a man who played a major role in the changing face of cricket during the 1970s.

“He will be fondly remembered for his informed commentaries, his embracing of innovation to enhance the game including day/night cricket as well as his performances on the field of play.

“He will be much missed in cricketing circles both in this country and around the world and we send our sympathies and condolences to Vivian and his family.”

ECB Chairman Giles Clarke said: "Tony Greig was a magnificent and fearless cricketer capable of changing games with ball or bat.

“He led England brilliantly in India and rejuvenated the side. He was a determined supporter of players’ rights in his later years."

Having been diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year, reports in Australia today indicated Greig suffered a heart attack at his home in Sydney.

He had commentated for Australian network Channel Nine for the last 33 years and the country's captain, Michael Clarke, was among the first to express his sadness at Greig's death.

Tony Greig

Greig played 58 Tests for England, scoring over 3,500 runs at an average above 40 as well as taking 141 wickets at 32

He said on www.cricket.com.au: "I was only speaking with Tony a couple of days ago so news of his passing is absolutely devastating.

"Tony has a long and decorated history with international cricket both as a player and commentator and cricket will be much poorer for his loss.

"Personally, he has also been a great mentor for me, providing great advice through the good times and the bad.

"The news will hit the cricket community hard, but we will never forget the lasting legacy Tony leaves us with.

"On behalf of the Australian cricket team our thoughts, prayers and wishes are with the Greig family at this difficult time."

Greig first became aware he had a problem in Dubai during Australia's one-day series against Pakistan, on which he was commentating, in August and September.

Initially diagnosed with bronchitis in May, the condition lingered and, by the time of the ICC World Twenty20 - which finished in Sri Lanka in October - tests had revealed a small lesion at the base of his right lung.

On his return to Australia, he had fluid removed from the right lung. Testing revealed he had lung cancer.

CA chairman Wally Edwards said: "On behalf of Australian cricket, I offer condolences to Tony's family, friends and fans and admirers."

"He was a combative on-field rival of Australian cricket but became one of Australian cricket's firmest friends, with his long-running role as a Channel Nine commentator making him an Australian household name.

"Tony stood out as a player and captain, as an influential part of the Kerry Packer World Series Cricket era and then for decades as a familiar voice in millions of Australian living rooms each summer as part of the Nine telecast which revolutionised the TV presentation of cricket.

"His illness and too-early death comes as a terrible shock - he will be greatly missed."

Greig, a right-handed middle-order batsman and medium-fast seamer who also bowled off-spin, made his Test debut for England against Australia in 1972. He scored 3,599 Test runs, including eight centuries, and took 141 wickets.

He replaced Mike Denness as England captain in the summer of 1975 and led the national team from 1975-77 before becoming one of the spearheads of Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket.

Channel Nine chief executive David Gyngell said in a statement: "It's a deeply upsetting time for his family and for everyone associated with Tony at Nine, and indeed for many, many others who came to know and love the man.

Tony Greig, Andrew Strauss, Mahela Jayawardene & Javagal Srinath

Greig (left) went on to become a revered commentator after his playing days, most notably with Channel Nine in Australia

"He's not only been part of our family, but he's had a seat at the head of the table."

Greig's wife Vivian said in a statement: "Our family wants to extend our gratitude for the support and condolences we have received and would ask for privacy at this very sad time."

ICC chief executive David Richardson also expressed his sadness on hearing the news of Greig's passing.

In an ICC statement, Richardson said: "This is extremely sad news for cricket and the ICC send their condolences to Tony's family and in particular his wife Vivian.

"Tony played a significant part in shaping modern cricket as a player in the 1970s and then provided millions of cricket lovers with a unique insight as a thoughtful and knowledgeable commentator - primarily for the Nine Network in Australia.

"I met with him on several occasions during the recent ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka where he was a senior commentator for our broadcast partner ESS.

"He was also a regular visitor to the ICC offices in Dubai when commentating for Ten Sports.

"I am sure that I will not be alone in saying that he and his wise words will be missed by cricketers, administrators and spectators around the world.

"His figures in Test matches show that he was one of the leading all-rounders of his generation with a batting average of above 40 and a bowling average around 32."

Australian prime minister Julia Gillard and sports minister Kate Lundy issued a joint statement on hearing this morning's news.

A statement published in the Sydney Morning Herald read: "Australia has lost one of the iconic voices of sport with the passing today of Tony Greig.

"Greig was a wonderful example of someone who came to Australia from somewhere else in the world and embraced his adopted country as his own.

"As a superb all-rounder, ambitious national captain and authoritative commentator over the best part of half a century, Greig's standing in the game is matched by very few others.

"Most Australians would be deeply familiar with Greig the commentator, in particular his unique brand of colourful game-calling and entertaining banter with his Channel Nine colleagues. His life in cricket wasn't always without controversy, but no one could doubt his passion and commitment to the sport he loved.

"Tony Greig devoted every ounce of his professional life to cricket, and the sport is much greater for his enormous contribution. Cricket has lost a giant today, but we're better as a sporting country for the life of Tony Greig.

"The thoughts of the nation are with his wife Vivian and his children Mark, Sam, Beau and Tom as they grieve the loss of their husband and father."

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