So long Mr Tony Greig
As we all march on into 2013, looking forward to bigger and better things, I would just like to take a moment to acknowledge Mr Tony Greig. 2012 ended on a sad note for his family and friends as well as those who had become accustomed to listening to Tony on the television.
The man was a colossus in terms of the game of cricket – not only on the field but off it as well. The events of the Kerry Packer “revolution” are well documented and Tony was very much involved in all of that. In my mind, the man was a pioneer.
There has been a proliferation of messages and tributes to salute the man because of what he did in the game and whilst I too salute him, I would like to share a chat I had with him quite a few years ago at The Wanderers Stadium which kind of inspired me and helped me see the broadcasting of cricket a little differently. In fact, it was on the morning of the the famous "438 game" between South Africa and Australia.
I asked Tony if he and Bill Lawry orchestrated what the viewers saw as arguments on the air when they worked together for the Channel Nine Network. His answer was interesting: “Ah mate, I just love sticking it to those Aussies and stirring every now and again.” He said it all with a big smile on his face and also told of how sometimes, despite being all good natured, it was not well received by some of his mates.
In the end, he explained that he felt it necessary to entertain those who took the time to turn on the television and invite the commentators into their lounges and TV rooms. Apart from the fact that he loved the game, when he took on the role of commentator he ensured that he tried to do an excellent job of broadcasting rather than jus speak on air just as a former cricketer. He did it well and was great to listen to. I wonder how many who are reading this grew up listening to Bill Lawry and Tony Greig having a go at each other on air – and loving it?
At a SuperSport and Channel Nine dinner held over in Australia in November, I got the chance to sit and chat with Bill Lawry and plucked up the courage to ask him about all those on-air arguments. Back in 2008, I had met him for the first time and felt it might be a bit rude to hop straight into it. Mr Bill Lawry, who is a very funny man, simply said that there were not as many “incidents” as those who watch and listen make out. It is because that is what they remember and so it seems he and Tony argued all the time.
Bill did also say that all of the Channel Nine commentators were encouraged to be themselves from early on, without any real training for the job, so that is what they worked on and never veered from that.
Well, it was Bill and Tony who gave me the most laughs when watching telecasts (as Tony would call them) from Australia. I just absolutely loved the enthusiasm. Sadly, one of those enthusiastic men of the game is no more and we shall never hear that voice again.
So long Mr Tony Greig, REST IN PEACE.