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Friday, 10 May, 2002, 08:41 GMT 09:41 UK
Old rues Packer snub
Chris Old
Old felt Packer challenged cricket's traditional values
test hello test
By Matthew Allen
BBC Sport Online

Former England pace bowler Chris Old regrets his decision to turn down the chance of playing in the Packer series after being put under pressure by his county side Yorkshire.

Old rejected an approach by Tony Greig in 1977, fearing that Yorkshire would sack him if he joined the rebel cricketers.

With the benefit of hinsight, the 53-year-old said he would have accepted the lucrative contract from Packer, after being let down by Yorkshire.

"At that stage Yorkshire had offered me a benefit season and they were very anti-Packer," he said.

Tony Greig
Greig's overtures were turned down by Old
"I was afraid that there was a possibility that the offer would have been removed and that I would be seeking employment elsewhere.

"I was under the apprehension that all ties to Yorkshire would have been cut had I joined Packer, but I could have got a lot more things.

"I tried to do the right thing by Yorkshire, but they were not slow to show me the door when I was at the end of my career.

"I am still bitter about the way things ended at Yorkshire, and with hindsight I might have made a different decision at the time."

But the 1979 Wisden Cricketer of the Year said he does not regret sticking with England when he was at the pinnacle of his Test career.

Old played 46 Tests for England, taking 143 wickets at an average of 28.11 between 1973-81.

He also captured 45 wickets in 32 one-day internationals during the same period. "I had been playing for England for some time but was not anywhere near the end of my Test career as some players were," he said.

I feared that it would remove the traditional values of the game, and I felt tradition was more important than money
Chris Old

"The biggest thing is to play for your country. There are various ex-county players who would have paid to play for England.

"Money can't buy the feeling of pride that you get from representing your country."

Old was also uneasy about the threat Packer posed to the game.

The schism between Packer and the traditional administrators of the game threatened at one stage to pull cricket apart.

"At that stage I wasn't sure that Packer would do the right thing for cricket," he said.

"I felt it made the commercial side of things more important than the game itself.

"The commercial and traditional sides of the game should work together with the same goals in mind rather than running the game purely for the sake of money."

Most people thought that it would be a seven-day wonder
Chris Old

Old, who now runs a restaurant in Cornwall, believes the Packer series was beneficial in some respects.

He said the traditionalists underestimated the impact it would have on cricket.

"Most people thought that it would be a seven-day wonder, but they soon realised there was a risk of a greater split in the game than they had imagined," he said.

"Both sides then got together and worked out their differences.

There were some good innovations and some bad that came out of the Packer years.

"It was good that one-day cricket took a bigger stage, but I think that it has now got too big and become more important than Test cricket.

"I don't like day-night cricket because you get two sets of conditions which make it harder to bat under lights with the white ball."

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