x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

A different cricket

Cricketer and commentator Tony Greig played an important role in the modernisation of the sport.

The world of cricket is mourning Tony Greig, who died in Sydney yesterday at the age of 66 of a heart attack less than three months after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

The South African-born all-rounder was a controversial figure from the moment he achieved his ambition of playing for England in 1972, having qualified because his father was Scottish.

While his record as a player and England captain is notable in its own right, Greig is mostly remembered as a recruiter for World Series Cricket, the breakaway tournament set up by Australian media magnate Kerry Packer after a battle with cricket's establishment over broadcast rights.

The split, from 1977 to 1979, was acrimonious but it paved the way for the modern game. The introduction of team colours, limited-over events and day-night matches reinvigorated a sport that once relied only on slow-moving, five-day test matches. There is a direct line between WSC and the juggernaut of today's Twenty20 series, which attracts large stadium crowds and huge international television audiences.

Having sacrificed his test career for WSC, Greig became a celebrated commentator. Tributes have come from London and Lahore, Melbourne and Mumbai, confirming his role in cricket's transformation.