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1977: Cricket captain sacked over 'circus'
England cricket captain, Tony Greig, has been sacked for signing up players to Kerry Packer's commercial cricket "circus".

On 9 May Mr Packer, the Australian media tycoon, announced he had recruited 35 of the world's best cricketers to play in a series of internationals in Australia this winter.

It follows the Australian Cricket Board decision to turn down his offer of AUS$1.5m a year for television rights to screen Australian Test matches and Sheffield Shield cricket on his Channel 9 station.

The impact of his new World Series Cricket, since dubbed a "circus" by the press, has shocked the cricket establishment and fans around the globe and will be discussed by the International Cricket Conference in July.

Poaching players

Mr Packer has hired Mr Greig to sign on more players and lead the team.

The Cricket Council, the ruling body for the game in this country, took four hours to reach its latest decision to drop the England captain.

Donald Carr of the Test and County Cricket Board, explained the reasons behind the move. "They took into consideration his involvement in the recruitment of players for this series of matches and clearly running in competition with the scheduled Test match series over the next year or two.

"This was considered to be a breach of the normal trust which is expected between the captain and the England team and the authorities."

He said the board reacted with "surprise and grave disappointment" at news that Mr Grieg and two other England players had signed up to Mr Packer's World Series Cricket.

In a statement that he read to the press, Mr Grieg said: "Obviously I am disappointed that my reign as England Captain has come to an end just as we were beginning to put things together.

"From a personal point of view, the only redeeming factor is that I have sacrificed cricket's most coveted job for a cause which I believe could be in the best interests of cricketers the world over."

There are fears that Mr Packer will tempt away more talented players with offers of large salaries to create a World XI team of superstars.

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Kerry Packer, Australian media tycoon
Kerry Packer tried to create a superteam - and rocked the cricket establishment.

In Context
With the help of Tony Greig, Kerry Packer recruited 50 top-class players by offering them salaries of around AUS$30,000 (12,000) a year for a three-year contract. As England captain, Greig had been paid just 1,050 for a season.

After arriving amid a fanfare of publicity, World Series Cricket existed for only 17 months as a live sporting entity.

But Mr Packer - once rated the richest man in Australia and seen as a threat to the sport - was regarded by the cricket world as having revolutionised the game.

He introduced floodlit night games using white balls, coloured clothing and top salaries for top players. Above all he transformed the image of the game from a dull and slow sport to something dynamic and energetic.

He died on 26 December 2005.

Top names in the original World XI team included:
Sussex's John Snow
Kent's Alan Knott and Derek Underwood
West Indies players Viv Richards, Andy Roberts, Pakistan's Imran Khan, Majid Khan, Asif Iqbal and captain Mushtaq Mohammed
South Africa's Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards, Mike Procter, Eddie Barlow and Denys Hobson

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