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Tony Greig dies: Patrick Collins tribute

Brash and tactless he may have been but Greig was also cricket's saviour

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 29 December 2012

The MCC flag on the clock tower at Lord’s is flying at half-mast in memory of Tony Greig.

The former England captain, who died aged 66 following a heart attack at his home in Sydney on Saturday, would have smiled at this tribute from Official England. For no cricketer ever attracted such vituperation from those who ruled the game. Yet no cricketer ever succeeded so completely in transforming the game they once ruled.

Brash and combative, truculent and tactless, Greig will be recalled as much for his role in celebrated controversies as for his status as one of cricket’s finest all-rounders.

66 and out: Former England captain and popular television commentator Tony Greig has died in Sydney at the age of 66

66 and out: Former England captain and popular television commentator Tony Greig has died in Sydney at the age of 66

Job well done: Greig, then captain of England, relaxes with a pint after a Test match at Old Trafford in 1972

Job well done: Greig, then captain of England, relaxes with a pint after a Test match at Old Trafford in 1972

There was his foolhardy promise to make
the 1976 West Indies tourists ‘grovel’. It was a crassly offensive term
in any circumstances; spoken by a white South African at a time when
apartheid still oppressed that benighted country, it was catastrophic.

There was the day in Trinidad when he threw down the stumps of Alvin
Kallicharran as the West Indies batsman walked off the field at the
close of play. Greig appealed, the umpire raised his finger and a major
riot ensued. On the following morning, the appeal was revoked. But the
memory lingered.

Then there was Packer. Most of all, there was Packer. Some 35 years on, it is impossible to convey the depth of the outrage.

All-rounder: Greig scored 3,599 Test runs at an average of 40.43 and was also more than handy with the ball, claiming 141 wickets at an average of 32.20

All-rounder: Greig scored 3,599 Test runs at an average of 40.43 and was also more than handy with the ball, claiming 141 wickets at an average of 32.20

Mentor: Greig offers some words of advice for players of the future during a match for Brighton and Hove CC at Basingstoke in 1978

Mentor: Greig offers some words of advice for players of the future during a match for Brighton and Hove CC at Basingstoke in 1978

Leaders: Deposed England cricket captain Tony Greig (right) and his successor, Mike Brearley, during practice prior to the 1st ODI against Australia at Old Trafford in Manchester on 22nd June 1977

Leaders: Deposed England cricket captain Tony Greig (right) and his successor, Mike Brearley, during practice prior to the 1st ODI against Australia at Old Trafford in Manchester on 22nd June 1977

In 1977, cricketers were seen as being fortunate to play the game. Their
wages were meagre, their financial prospects precarious. Greig had been
captain of England for two years, a popular figure who seemed capable
of regenerating English cricket. But he had signed a secret agreement
with Kerry Packer, the owner of Nine Network in Australia, to set up a
‘rebel’ troupe of international cricketers.

He then — while still captain — began to recruit English and foreign cricketers for the Packer ‘circus’.

The plot became public and, within a week, Greig had lost the captaincy.
He was retained for an Ashes series as an England player, but his
international career then expired. He threw his energies behind Packer’s
successful attempt to popularise the game, especially the one-day
version with its coloured clothing and tumultuous crowds. The sport was
truly transformed.

Meeting of minds: Greig chats with Pakistan cricketer of the sixties Saeed Ahmed in the United Arab Emirates in 1997

Meeting of minds: Greig chats with Pakistan cricketer of the sixties Saeed Ahmed in the United Arab Emirates in 1997

Controversial times: Greig as captain of the World Series Cricket World XI in the 1979 Supertest Grand Final match with Australia in Sydney

Controversial times: Greig as captain of the World Series Cricket World XI in the 1979 Supertest Grand Final match with Australia in Sydney

It all tended to obscure the fact that he was a blissfully talented
cricketer. Six feet six inches in height, he scored 3,599 Test runs at
40.43 and took 141 wickets at 32.20. Once in the West Indies, with
England needing to win to save the series, he experimented with
off-spin. He took 13 wickets, scored a six and three-quarter-hour
century and England won by 26 runs.

An extraordinary talent.

He later moved to Australia and built a career as a commentator on
Packer’s television channel. The energy never dimmed until these last
few weeks, when he was diagnosed with lung cancer and his health swiftly
failed.

Memorabilia: Greig studies the ball used by Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh when he became the first Indian to take a hat-trick in Test cricket at an auction in Bangalore in 2003

Memorabilia: Greig studies the ball used by Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh when he became the first Indian to take a hat-trick in Test cricket at an auction in Bangalore in 2003

He has received a number of glowing obituaries, but many years ago his
former England colleague, Pat ‘Percy’ Pocock, wrote: ‘When the whole
Packer business erupted, the popular cry was that Tony Greig had
betrayed the game. I never believed that, and I think history will be
kind to him. Far from betraying it, I fancy he may just have saved it.’

Tony Greig would have appreciated the MCC flag on the clock tower. But I
suspect that Percy’s tribute would be the one he valued most of all.

WORLD OF CRICKET UNITES TO PAY TRIBUTE TO GREIG

England wicketkeeper, Matt Prior: 'Can't believe one of my heroes Tony Greig has passed away. One of the greatest voices in cricket and will be sorely missed. #RIPGreigy.'

England batsman Jonny Bairstow: 'Today we lost a fabulous man, a family friend and someone who was respected by all not only as a cricketer but a true gentleman RIPTonyGreig'

England opener, Nick Compton:
'Sad day – RIP Tony Greig a fantastic player and a good man, loved his
commentary was one of the best! Cricket world will miss u.'

Legendary Aussie fast bowler, Brett Lee: 'OMG Poor Tony Greig. I feel so sad and shocked right now. Can't believe it.'

England all-rounder, Luke Wright: 'Gutted to hear that Tony Greig has passed away. A legend on and off the field. Our thoughts are with his family and friends #RIPGreigy.'

Australia captain Michael Clarke 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.'

Former Australian paceman Glen McGrath: My thoughts are with Tony Greig's family today. RIP Tony Greig'

Long-serving Nine Network cricket commentator and former Australia captain Richie Benaud recalled Greig's 'fearless' reaction to the English public following his decision to join the Packer team in 1977.
'There was an enormous amount of pressure on him,' Benaud told the Sydney Morning Herald.

'He was captain of England at the time and played against Australia at Lord's. The English people turned against him.

'He wasn't just a fearless cricketer but a fearless thinker as well. He would not just jump in boots first, but it wouldn't matter how much pressure it put on him, he would stick with it.'

Former Australia fast bowler Dennis Lillee told the same publication: 'Tony was a tough opponent who took on all opposition with aggression and a determination to win.

'We will not forget the way he stirred the viewers in a similar vein to the way he did to opposition teams.'

ICC chief executive David Richardson: '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.'

Tom Maynard tributes fill family with pride

Tributes to Tom fill us all with pride, says emotional father Matthew

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UPDATED:

21:39 GMT, 22 August 2012

St Fagans lies on the western rim of Cardiff, an ancient village renowned for its English Civil War battlefield, the Welsh National History Museum and its cricket club.

They went to Lord’s three times for finals of the old village cup against English opponents and won all three.

St Fagans was basking in the glory of successive victories in the early Eighties when an 18-year-old batsman pitched up for a season on loan from Glamorgan. Matthew Maynard blew through a multitude of club bowlers that summer then upped the tempo on his county debut the following year.

Emotional: Matthew Maynard completes the Tom Maynard Trust Bike Ride to Surrey's Clydesdale Bank 40 game against Glamorgan and sports a tattoo in his son's memory

Emotional: Matthew Maynard completes the Tom Maynard Trust Bike Ride to Surrey's Clydesdale Bank 40 game against Glamorgan and sports a tattoo in his son's memory

Against Yorkshire at Swansea in August 1985, he hit a century, going from 82 to 100 by lifting the wily slow left-arm spinner, the late Phil Carrick, for three successive sixes. Three years later, Maynard was playing for England against the West Indies, the definitive baptism of fire provided by Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh.

England dropped the new boy all too quickly, making him vulnerable to the rebel team being recruited for the 1990 tour of apartheid South Africa.

If there were times when he might have been too gung-ho for his own good, that was one of them. He knew he would be banned from Test cricket but shrugged it off, thinking he would be young enough to come back, as he did after three years.

Leading the way: Matthew Maynard leads the cyclists onto the field prior to the Clydesdale Bank Pro40 match between Surrey and Glamorgan at The Kia Oval

Leading the way: Matthew Maynard leads the cyclists onto the field prior to the Clydesdale Bank Pro40 match between Surrey and Glamorgan at The Kia Oval

His Test ban began in 1991, the last time St Fagans lorded it at HQ./08/22/article-2192181-14A43A56000005DC-560_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”In memory: Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff took part in the cycle ride” class=”blkBorder” />

In memory: Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff took part in the cycle ride

The events of the early hours of June 18 robbed cricket of an England batsman in the making and his parents of a beloved son. How would Matthew like his son to be remembered

‘The number of letters we’ve had show that Tom was a great bloke. There is nothing more rewarding as a parent, I guess, than knowing your lad has turned out as you’d hope. The thoughtfulness he had for others was not as apparent as it has become from the letters we have received and that fills us with pride.

‘Obviously his cricket was going in the right direction. We were so proud of how he turned out as a player and a person and always will be.

‘He seemed to have an ability to touch people he had just met. He was just a lovely character. He never got above his station.

Tributes: Tom Maynard died in June after being hit by a train

Tributes: Tom Maynard died in June after being hit by a train

‘When he scored the century against Glamorgan last year, the whole family were at the Swalec Stadium to see it. It had been a traumatic time for us all.

‘He just quietly acknowledged the applause. He didn’t do anything to upset the Glamorgan members, committee or management. It was probably one of his coolest celebrations because he didn’t want to offend people.

‘He had that wonderful way about him. If I had been in his shoes, I might have gone a bit crazy but he had his mother’s cooler nature.’

Maynard saw Tom make a career-best 143 for Surrey at Worcester in May and last saw him bat during a one-dayer in Cardiff 16 days before his death shocked the cricket world and beyond. How tough had it been

He paused, then said: ‘I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It’s not only these two months. It’s always going to be with us. How we react in the future, no-one knows.’

Doing their bit: Matthew Maynard embraces Flintoff after the cycle ride

Doing their bit: Matthew Maynard embraces Flintoff after the cycle ride

Maynard is contracted to a second season as coach of the Nashua Titans in Pretoria.

‘As a family we are due to go out to South Africa. How I am going to work and coach, I have no idea. There’s very much an empty feeling in the family… we are trying to be as supportive of each other as we can, a day at a time.

‘I want to thank everyone who has supported us and say how proud we are of our lovely lad.’

Another ambition perished with Tom: that of him returning to his roots. ‘I’d love to come down for a game before I’m old and creaky,’ he had said before the season began.

‘But don’t tell Uncle Charlie…’

If fate hadn’t been so cruel, those sitting by the long-on boundary — where the Tom Maynard memorial bench is now located — would have been diving for cover…

Donations to the Tom Maynard Trust for aspiring cricketers can be made via www.tommaynardtrust.com

The Open 2012: Ernie Els hopes Adam Scott recovers

Ernie: I hope Scott doesn't take major defeat as hard as me

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UPDATED:

21:57 GMT, 22 July 2012

Ernie Els put an arm around Adam Scott’s shoulder on Sunday night and told him: ‘Don’t fall into a pit of despair like I did.’

Australian Scott was seemingly cruising to his first major championship success, only to finish with four straight bogeys on a dramatic afternoon at Royal Lytham to hand the title to the South African.

Done it all before: Ernie Els is an experienced player

Done it all before: Ernie Els is an experienced player

Said Els: ‘I’ve blown majors, I’ve been on the other end more than I’ve been on the winning end, and I hope he doesn’t take it as hard as me.’ While Scott suffered a disappointment that mirrored some of the dramatic losses suffered by his great idol Greg Norman, Els savoured his comeback from the ranks of the forgotten.

As he said: ‘Just about everything that can happen in the game I’ve gone through.’

The 42-year-old said he couldn’t wait to see wife Liezl, and his kids Samantha and Ben, who suffers from autism. Els has raised millions of dollars to build a new school near his home in Florida for kids who are autistic. He said: ‘Ben has got his sayings and he will be happy with his dad. Samantha will be there right next to him and Liezl and it’s going to be a great time to see them. Ben is coming along nicely. He’s a wonderful boy now, and we are going to have a lot of fun.’

Shellshocked: Adam Scott misses his crucial putt

Shellshocked: Adam Scott misses his crucial putt

Els had spent the morning watching his cricket buddies rack up the runs against England. ‘While I was doing that, kind of daydreaming, it came to me in a split second that I would thank Nelson Mandela in my speech. I grew up in the apartheid era and he was right there. And right after the change, I was the first one to win a major and he was on the phone talking to me in Pittsburgh. So we have intertwined in a crazy way.’

While Els was feeling ‘numb’ with victory, Scott looked shell-shocked. ‘We got to the 16th tee and I thought six good swings to finish out the round. But I couldn’t do it,’ he said. ‘Ernie is great and his words will help. I will take all the good stuff I did this week and use that for the next time I’m out on the course.’

National anthem mix up leaves South Africa squirming through apartheid-era song

National anthem mix up leaves South Africa squirming through apartheid-era song

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UPDATED:

10:53 GMT, 6 June 2012

South Africa have received an official
apology from Great Britain Hockey after the apartheid-era anthem Die Stem
was mistakenly played prior to yesterday's match at the London Cup.

In a letter to tournament organisers,
Marissa Langeni, chief executive of the South African Hockey
Association, said the country 'watched with disbelief as our team stood
through what clearly was a most embarrassing and uncomfortable
experience'.

South Africa recovered from anthem debacle to win 3-1

Delight: South Africa recovered from anthem debacle to win 3-1

South Africa's women went on to beat the hosts 3-1 in their opening game and GB Hockey have moved swiftly to apologise for the administrative mistake.

'Great Britain Hockey, the organiser of the Investec London Cup, offers a full and unreserved apology to the South African women's hockey team and their supporters for mistakenly playing the wrong national anthem before South Africa's match with Great Britain on Tuesday afternoon,' chief executive Sally Munday said.

'The error was made by a contractor responsible for sports presentation at the event.

'Standard procedure would be to check anthems to be played with visiting teams in advance, however, on this occasion that did not happen and Great Britain Hockey accepts full responsibility.

'Great Britain Hockey and its contractor appreciate the sensitive nature of this unfortunate mistake and we apologise unreservedly for the offence caused.

Great Britain's Helen Richardson challenges South Africa's Lenise Marais

Focused: Great Britain's Helen Richardson challenges South Africa's Lenise Marais

'The correct anthem will be played before all of South Africa's remaining matches, beginning with the team's second fixture against Germany on Wednesday evening.' Langeni said she felt the incident clouded what had been a great day for the team.

'We are extremely disappointed that an administrative blunder has been the source of much embarrassment for our team and all South Africans,' she said in a statement prior to the apology.

'The anthem played caused our team much discomfort as they stood not knowing what to do with themselves.

'This incident has robbed our team of what should have been a moment of pride.'