Notepad on Life

January 1, 2013

Tony Greig’s death ends a tall tale

Filed under: Sport — - @ 3:13 pm

TONY GREIG (Photo credit: RubyGoes)

Not even the Kerry Packer affair could put me off Tony Greig.

Not when the 6ft 6in former England cricketer had shown me that it was possible, after all, to be the gangly one of the crowd and still cut a dash, still project charisma ahead of clumsiness.

Even his infamous vow to make the West Indies grovel, which should, by rights, have ranked second only to David Steel‘s ‘Prepare for government’ howler in my hubris hall of fame, seemed to add to his lustre. You could knock him down or he could do the job for you, yet with the crowd poised to deride just another lanky pillock, he would come straight back at you, either with the ball or bat.

Like Graeme Smith after him – another native South African – he refused to be cowed or beaten. To a six-foot teenager riddled with hormones and self-consciousness, Greig was totemic, like King Arthur. A line from his autobiography – “You have to enjoy the good times in sport because there are plenty of bad ones” – I have never forgotten.

I wore my collar up like he did when fielding and gave up trying to stoop when batting, instead standing more comfortably upright like he did, even if it left clear daylight between the foot of my bat and the ground, an open invitation to the yorker.

There, alas, the similarities between us ended.

If I was stopped in my tracks by Gerry Anderson‘s death last week, I was genuinely shaken by Greig’s passing at the age of 66. Both were big parts of my childhood but Greig offered solace and a tenuous empathy and the fact I no longer need them does nothing to soothe my sadness at his death.

Another prop from the past is kicked out from underneath me. My childhood seems more and more like a bricked-up cave.

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