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Tony Greig tribute by Paul Newman

Tony Greig: A rebel with a cause. He was a pioneer who shocked the world… and saved cricket

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UPDATED:

20:26 GMT, 30 December 2012

Tony Greig rocked the establishment in walking away from high office as England captain to play a key role in setting up Kerry Packer’s breakaway ‘circus’ in 1977.

Sportsmail pays tribute to one of the most significant cricketers in the history of the game by recalling how the late, great Ian Wooldridge broke the seismic news of the Packer revolution exclusively on the front page of the Daily Mail.

And how Greig, who died in Sydney on Saturday at the age of 66, was finally welcomed back into the home of the game when he was invited to deliver the Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey lecture by MCC at Lord’s last summer.

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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

On May 9, 1977, under the headline
‘World’s top cricketers turn “pirate” ’, Ian Wooldridge wrote: ‘In a
player revolution unprecedented in sport the world’s top 34 Test
cricketers have secretly signed contracts to become freelance
mercenaries. Disenchanted by low pay and what they regarded as doormat
treatment by cricketing authorities throughout the world they are to
play exhibition “Tests” for television and ten times the money.

Ragout

‘The new Dogs of Cricket include
England captain Tony Greig and 13 of the Australian touring party (in
England at the time). The possibility must be faced that Greig’s
involvement will be seen at Lord’s as defection and that he will be
removed from the captaincy this summer. Overnight. the whole balance of
world cricket has shifted.’

Last June, 35 years after being
ostracised from the established game, Greig, whose career of 58 Tests,
14 of them as England captain, was ended by his shocking switch, stood
tall at the home of cricket and explained, at the behest of MCC, why he
made the move that changed the game for ever.

Greig said: ‘I must explain my
reasons for sacrificing the most coveted role in world cricket, the
England captaincy, to become involved with an Australian television
tycoon. A quote from the transcript of my meeting with Kerry Packer,
five days after the Centenary Test on March 22, 1977, gives the best
insight of how I felt at the time: “Kerry, money is not my major
concern. I’m nearly 31 years old. I’m probably two or three failures
from being dropped from the England team. Ian Botham is going to be a
great player and there won’t be room in the England side for both of us.

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

“England captains such as Tony Lewis,
Brian Close, Colin Cowdrey, Ray Illingworth and Mike Denness all lost
the captaincy long before they expected. I won’t be any different. I
don’t want to finish up in a mundane job when they drop me. I’m not
trained to do anything. I am at the stage of my life when my family’s
future is more important than anything else. If you guarantee me a job
for life within your organisation, I will sign”.

Greig worked as a commentator for Packer’s Channel Nine in Australia until his death from a heart attack, after being diagnosed with lung cancer in October.

He continued at Lord’s: ‘Obviously
there were also key issues with the England administrators that
disturbed me which I felt would never be resolved. I couldn’t understand
why we were only paid 210 a Test when we were playing in front of
packed houses. The psyche of the administrators was that the honour of
playing for England was enough — money shouldn’t be a consideration.

‘Consequently I couldn’t see an end
to the game under-selling itself and there appeared to be no hope of
expanding the revenue base for Test and county players alike unless
there was a revolution, or at least a big upheaval. I have never had any
doubt that I did the right thing by my family and by cricket. I have
worked for Kerry Packer’s organisation for 35 years and my family’s
future has been secured.

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

‘After the initial nastiness and internal feuding, cricket and cricketers also did quite well out of World Series Cricket.

‘WSC ensured cricket reinvented itself to survive the changing world.

‘WSC was the jolt the administrators
needed and it flagged the message that they were substantially
under-selling the sport to TV.

‘Players immediately received
substantially more money at both Test and first-class level, which
increased the longevity of their careers.

‘Companies saw the value in using
cricket as a marketing tool. TV coverage improved significantly, which
increased interest in the sport. Night cricket created a new audience,
both in terms of television and at the ground, and generated
significantly more income.

‘Cricket’s success inspired other sports to imitate cricket with things such as TV coverage and sponsorships.’

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

Greig concluded: ‘Cricket as we know
and love it still has plenty of problems. Most can be solved if the
International Cricket Council members put the game’s interests before
their own; if India accepts the survival of Test cricket as
non-negotiable; if India accepts its responsibility as leader of the
cricket world; if it embraces Nelson Mandela’s philosophy of not
seeking retribution; and if it embraces the Spirit of Cricket and
governs in the best interests of world cricket, not just for India and
its business partners.

‘What we have is a game with its
roots deep in the 19th century but, like a magnificent English oak,
continues to spread its luxuriant branches in the 21st century.

‘If we want our children’s children
to be able to climb on that tree, we must do everything in our power to
ensure that the tree can live.

‘To do that, no matter where we come
from in the world, we must be guided by the paramount and enlightening
thing that Colin Cowdrey, a man so courteous he called Jeff Thomson “Mr
Thomson” out in the middle, knew and cherished so well. The Spirit of
Cricket.’

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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.'

"Orphaned" Belgium fans put Euro support up for sale on eBay after team failed to reach finals

'Orphaned' Belgium fans put Euro support up for sale on eBay after team failed to reach finals

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UPDATED:

12:18 GMT, 1 June 2012

As England's travelling support wavers for Euro 2012, they may need to acquire a few mercenaries to boost their turn-out.

A group of 300 Belgium football fans have put their support up for sale on eBay for charity, and the highest bidder gets to choose the team they support.

England face Belgium on Saturday at Wembley in their last warm-up before the finals.

Maybe next time: Belgium did not qualify for the Euros this year

Maybe next time: Belgium did not qualify for the Euros this year

Belgium will not be in Poland and Ukraine over the summer, as they failed to qualify from Group A, but this set of fans are not letting their passion go to waste.

On a Facebook page set up by the fans, a statement said: 'Once again we, Belgian soccer fans, have no team to root for in the euro 2012 tournament.

'Once again we are orphaned, wandering through the streets without colours, without flag.

Enlarge

Mercenaries: A group of Belgium fans have put their support up for sale on eBay

Mercenaries: A group of Belgium fans have put their support up for sale on eBay

'We will watch the games, but we won't taste the heat of the fight, the tension between victory and defeat.'

The winner of the auction, which already has dozens of bids, will gain hundreds of fans who pledge to wear the team colours and flags of their chosen country.

'This group and all its members will be put for sale on ebay, and all profits will go to Unicef.

'The highest bidder can choose what country we will be rooting for during Euro 2012. We will instantaneously become huge fans of his or her team.

'Yes, even if that means Holland.'

The fans' eBay page jokingly stated that they
were willing to indulge in 'slight hooliganism'.

Ready England will face Belgium in a warm-up game on Saturday

Ready England will face Belgium in a warm-up game on Saturday

The page says: 'Slight hooliganism is available at extra cost.

'We can, for example, kick a pigeon or smoke in a non-smoking area if such pleases our master.'

The fans are not limiting themselves to one club through the whole tournament though.

If their adopted team are knocked out, they have said they will 'grieve' for 24 hours and then put themselves back on eBay to support another country.

The Facebook page said: 'Once the team is eliminated, we will grieve for 24 hours and then put ourselves for sale again on ebay.

'Hopefully joined by the previous winner since he or she will also have become an orphaned soccer fan by then.'

The auction ends on June 7. You can see the Belgium fans' page here

London 2012 Olympics: BOA want answers over failed drugs test by Myroslav Dykun

Wrestling on the ropes! BOA want answers over failed drugs test by 'Plastic Brit'

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UPDATED:

21:42 GMT, 3 May 2012

British Wrestling's
embattled chief executive
Colin Nicholson
has been summoned to
London to explain why
one of his hired foreign
mercenaries failed a drugs test.

After Sportsmail's revelation that Ukraine-born Myroslav Dykun
had tested positive – for amphetamines
– Nicholson will meet British
Olympic Association officials, probably
next week.

Missing in action: Myroslav Dykun has fled back to his homeland

Missing in action: Myroslav Dykun has fled back to his homeland

The development came as it appeared that Dykun, a medal hope who now faces an Olympic ban, had fled Britain for his homeland. Nicholson confirmed last night that he has not spoken to Dykun since news of the failed test broke but would not comment on his whereabouts.

Nicholson will be asked next week not only about the embarrassment of Dykun's positive result – amphetamines work in the same way as a stimulant, inducing weight loss and accentuating alertness – but the entire management of a sport that is emerging as riven with intrigue and recrimination.

Billy Cooper, of Wildcats Freestyle Wrestling Club in Manchester, has been involved in the sport for 40 years and said: 'I'm not bitter about how wrestling is run from any personal experience. This is the sport I love. Kids are the future, not imports.

'I see British Wrestling destroying a lot of the work I have put in over the years. It saddens me and many others.'

Another coach claimed that foreign wrestlers had been put up free of charge at a house in Manchester bought by performance director Shaun Morley, while British wrestlers had to pay rent to live there.

Nicholson refused to deny the accusation but added: 'Briefing from people who don't agree with the strategy is disappointing. No sport has 100 per cent agreement and critics are using the drug test – a failed A sample, not a B sample – as a reason to undermine the strategy the board believe is right.'

No sparring partner: Dykun came to Britain as a 21-year-old and graduated to the Wrestling team

No sparring partner: Dykun came to Britain as a 21-year-old and graduated to the Wrestling team

The accusations are the latest in a line of controversies to bedevil the sport. The main complaint centres around five athletes, brought in from Ukraine and Bulgaria, marrying British citizens, ostensibly to gain UK citizenship and represent Team GB at this summer's Olympics thanks to 3.5million of public funding. Two female athletes were denied citizenship in March.

Nicholson, who will meet BOA chief executive Andy Hunt – also Team GB's chef de mission – told Sportsmail he had no intention of resigning, but added that 'nobody says never'.

Dykun, 29, who competes in the 66kg category and is a former Commonwealth champion, has been suspended from competition and has had all his funding cut pending the outcome of the B test. He missed Olympic qualifying events in China and Bulgaria and is out of this week's qualifier in Helsinki.

The furore about 'Plastic Brits', such as Dykun, representing Team GB was highlighted by a Great Britain gymnast born in Ukraine. Ruslan Panteleymonov, who came to Britain to study at university 12 years ago – Dykun moved in 2003 – and has therefore never been labelled a 'Plastic Brit', argued the decision to promote Dykun from sparring partner to team member after he gained eligibility made a mockery of international competition.

Panteleymonov said: 'The English guys who were training and competing before, they're doing their preparation, doing everything, trying, and then some foreigners come and they say, “All right, we compete now”. This is not right.'

EXCLUSIVE: "Plastic Brit" fails drugs test! Wrestling mercenary makes mockery of medal plan

EXCLUSIVE: 'Plastic Brit' fails drugs test! Wrestling mercenary to be named as cheat

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 2 May 2012

One of the 'Plastic Brits' hired to represent the Great Britain wrestling team at London 2012 has failed a drugs test.

Sportsmail understands that Myroslav Dykun, brought in from the Ukraine as part of British Wrestling's opportunistic attempt to import success at the expense of home-grown talent, will be named as the offender.

The positive test makes a mockery of the 3.5million spent by UK Sport on the squad since a host of eastern European mercenaries joined up in recent years.

'Golden boy': Myroslav Dykun (top) was imported by British Wrestling

'Golden boy': Myroslav Dykun (top) was imported by British Wrestling

The revelation comes two months to the day since Sportsmail exclusively reported that two female Ukraine-born wrestlers, Yana Stadnik and Olga Butkevych, would be denied UK passports in time for the Olympics.

In all, five Ukrainian wrestlers have married British wrestlers in the last few years, though British Wrestling have denied the marriages are sham to bolster the squad.

Dykun, described by one insider as the golden boy of British Wrestling's controversial policy, will miss the Olympics subject to confirmation from the B sample and a hearing.

Out of action: Olga Butkevych (top) was denied a UK passport for the Games

Out of action: Olga Butkevych (top) was denied a UK passport for the Games

The substance in question is not known. Colin Nicholson, chief executive of British Wrestling, told Sportsmail: 'It will be disappointing if it is confirmed. British Wrestling fully supports the UK anti-doping policy and does not condone the use of drugs.'

But one wrestling insider said: 'I am coaching kids and the way British Wrestling have acted is a betrayal of them.'

The British Olympic Association declined to comment.

Great Britain set medals record at world indoor games

Flying in face of sense: Tired Farah comes fourth… but Britain set medals record

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UPDATED:

23:28 GMT, 11 March 2012

We said there was too much of this flying athletes in from around the world to represent Britain. In Mo Farah’s case, flying in and out and back again to his training base in the United States.

He’s no Plastic Brit, jetted in to make us look good in the medal table. He grew up in London. But exhausted from his travels and his high training mileage, he could not muster the medal, let alone the longed for gold, he sought here in the 3,000 metres final. After two appeals, of which more later, he was confirmed in fourth place.

It was his fellow travellers in the team — comprising the mercenaries, the homeless and the fickle —who contributed towards Britain’s best ever performance at a World Indoor Championships with nine medals, to eclipse the seven won in 2003.

Baton brilliance: (from left) Cox, Shakes-Drayton, Ohuruogu and Sanders

Baton brilliance: (from left) Cox, Shakes-Drayton, Ohuruogu and Sanders

FROM OUT IN THE COLD TO GOLD:

At the end of her last year competing for America, Shana Cox (above left) was ranked No 9 in her country, unable to get in the team. After switching to Britain, she walked straight into the relay team and is now world indoor champion.

There is qualified cheering in this quarter: delight at the genuine British medals and pleasure that the question of who should represent the country has been debated so fervently in the last few days.

The greatest pity, leaving the nationality debate aside, was Farah’s. He has now not won any of his last three races. Little wonder, perhaps, given that only the other day he could not even count the number of times he has travelled from Oregon to compete and train in Europe and Kenya this year.

He is averaging 100 miles or more a week on the road under the direction of Alberto Salazar, his Cuban-born coach who uses every modern scientific quirk and harnesses it to a fierce work ethic.

Getting there first: Britain's Perri Shakes-Drayton crosses the line ahead of America's Sanya Richards-Ross

Getting there first: Britain's Perri Shakes-Drayton crosses the line ahead of America's Sanya Richards-Ross

Medals table

The winner of the 3,000m was again Bernard Lagat, formerly of Kenya. Now a ‘Plastic American’, he runs no more than 75 miles a week. The question is whether the miles Farah is accumulating will pay off, namely in the Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m finals.

Asked if Farah was still the man to beat in London, Lagat said: ‘Absolutely. He will go from here with a lot of hunger.’

There was a brief respite for Farah when he was awarded third place instead of Kenyan Edwin Soi, who was disqualified for obstruction. His team appealed the punishment and won. Soi, with countryman Augustine Choge second, held on to third.

Yes, there was a tangle as Farah
approached the home straight but by then the small advantage he had
seized with three laps remaining had vanished. He dived for the line
one-hundredth of a second behind Soi, falling over in the process.

‘I was disappointed,’ said the usually affable Farah, who at first refused to speak to the press, post-race.

‘This is not an Olympic event but it’s a good learning curve. I’ve got to keep my head down and keep training twice as hard.’

Falling down: Mo Farah falls after crossing the line as United States' Bernard Lagat wins the gold

Falling down: Mo Farah falls after crossing the line as United States' Bernard Lagat wins the gold

Flat out: Farah has a gruelling training schedule across the world

Flat out: Farah has a gruelling training schedule across the world

Is that really the answer Does he really think, as he claimed, he has not raced once too often this year

Farah apart, the British medals were rolling in. There was bronze and a new national record of 6.89m for long jumper Shara Proctor from Anguilla, where there is no Olympic association.

She, therefore, will represent Britain. Is that right I have no objection given it is a British territory, though we should note in passing she is based in Florida.

On the podium: Bronze medallist Shara Proctor poses after the long jump

On the podium: Bronze medallist Shara Proctor poses after the long jump

We will also point out that her younger sister Shinelle competed for their homeland in the 60m. It’s all very confusing.

There was also a bronze medal for Holly Bleasdale, the 20-year-old pole vaulter, who cleared 4.70m. She is as cheery and down-to-earth a Lancashire lass as you could wish to find.

Andrew Osagie, born Harlow, Essex, came third in the 800m. No controversy there, just admiration for a running style as fluid as you could ever wish to see.

True Brit: Andrew Osagie came third in the 800m

True Brit: Andrew Osagie came third in the 800m

So on to the women’s 4x400m relay. Shana Cox, born Brooklyn, USA, ran the first leg. She passed the baton to the bona-fide Brits, Nicola Sanders, Christine Ohuruogu, born London, and on to Perri Shakes-Drayton, who held off America’s Sanya Richards-Ross to win gold.

And it was silver for the men’s team after America were reinstated in gold place after first being disqualified for ‘exchanging positions before takeover’.

Taking silver: Conrad Williams, Nigel Levine, Michael Bingham and Richard Buck celebrate coming second in the 4x400 relay

Taking silver: Conrad Williams, Nigel Levine, Michael Bingham and Richard Buck celebrate coming second in the 4×400 relay

Conrad Williams, Nigel Levine, Michael Bingham and Richard Buck were our quartet.

It would be neglectful not to remind ourselves that Mr Bingham hails from North Carolina, USA.