It was the Bard of Avon who said the ‘evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones’. Being human, Tony must have had his foibles. I would rather dwell on the good. I first encountered him when Central Province played a one day match against the MCC in 1973. Tony had earlier rattled the roof of the old Asgiriya Pavilion with a six hit or two. There was a suspicion of an edge to a Chris Old outswinger, but umpire Royle Barthelot, unaffected by the raucous din from the slip cordon, ruled in my favour. At the end of the over, the towering figure of Tony Greig was next to me: “Hey! What do you think you are doing? Why don’t you go?” A trifle sheepishly, I cast my eyes down and waited for the storm to spend itself.
My next close encounter with Tony was in the ‘box’ when we shared commentary. He was an international celebrity, whereas I was a fledging broadcaster. To me he was courteous, gracious, very professional and never pulled rank. Whenever we met on subsequent occasions he always hailed me, held out his giant right hand and asked “Are you well?”
Tony was charismatic, colourful, controversial and confident. He loved a challenge, though he may have got it wrong when, as England captain in 1976, promised to make the West Indians grovel. His competitive nature was evident when he threw down the stumps (almost at the end of the day’s play) to run Kalicharran out at the non-striker’s end. The decision was overturned to enable play to restart the next day. One man stood beside Greig until the baying of the crowd had subsided. That man was Gary Sobers. Good bye Tony.