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Friday, 10 May, 2002, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
Greig proud of Packer era
Tony Greig skippered the World XI
Greig has no regrets about his role in the Packer affair
test hello test
Thrasy Petropoulos
By Thrasy Petropoulos
BBC Sport Online cricket writer
line

When Tony Greig was made England captain, recommended for the job by even his predecessor, Mike Denness, for his combative and spirited approach to the game, he completed one of the more improbable journeys in sport.

Born in Queenstown, in Cape Province, to a South African mother and Scottish father in 1946, he moved to England at the age of 20 and qualified to play for Sussex the following year.


I was fed up with being ripped off by the Test and County Cricket Board
Tony Greig

He scored a century on his first-class debut and by 1970 the 6ft 7ins all rounder was in the England side for the unofficial Test against the Rest of the World.

The Sussex captaincy followed three years later, and by 1975 he was the only real choice to succeed Denness.

For Greig, however, the journey for which many people remember him best had only just begun.

Two years and 14 Tests after taking over the England captaincy, he astonished the establishment by accepting Kerry Packer's offer to join World Series Cricket.

While there was still hope that an agreement would be reached between Packer and the ICC, Greig played five Tests against Australia under Mike Brearley, but by the summer of 1977 he had essentially severed his links with English cricket.

Poor wages

For Greig, however, there is a common misconception within this story: at no stage, he insists, was he approached during the Centenary Test in March of that year, his last assignment as England captain, and had therefore not acted disloyally towards his adopted country.

Rather, his decision to break ranks, based on the assertion that cricketers were being paid an "insultingly" small wage relative to the home board's earnings from television revenue, served to highlight a gross injustice.

"I'm proud of the stance we took, I really am," Greig insists. "And I think that every cricketer should be appreciative of what we achieved because we brought attention to the fact that we were all being completely ripped off."

Greig appeals for a catch against India
Packer ended Greig's England career

As England captain, Greig was being paid 210 per Test match, or 1,050 for the season.

Kerry Packer was offering AUS $30,000-a-year (12,000) as captain (others would receive $25,000) and WSC was scheduled to last for at least three years.

And while Test cricket would undoubtedly be weakened, the best competition would be found in Packer's circus.

What still rankles with Greig, however, are the accusations of disloyalty.

"Some people have said that it would have been impossible for me not to have caught wind of it during the Centenary Test (when most of the Australians were first contacted)," he said.

New challenge

"It just didn't happen like that. As far my decision after the Test goes, I could with some justification argue that my assignment as England captain was over.

"One of the best bits of advice that my father gave to me was not to make any assumptions on the longevity of the job. He told me always to look at the fate of my predecessors. I wasn't under contract and therefore owed the TCCB nothing.

Greig with Australian Michael Slater
Greig is now at home behind a microphone

"The idea that I was bound by an unwritten rule of loyalty is laughable. If they were insisting on paying us an insultingly small wage while raking in money from television, what could they possibly have expected in return.

"I looked at my future. I was 30 and was at the stage of my career where I was playing on experience, no longer learning. It was a straightforward decision to make really.

One thing is for certain: the well-trodden route of the English professional cricketer, serving his time in the county game until he is awarded a benefit year, and then turning to a life of coaching or administration was not for Greig.

"I didn't want to be an umpire or coach, and certainly didn't want to get down on bended knee and take a begging bowl round to a bunch of pensioners. I couldn't think of anything more demeaning.

"It was a purely financial decision, and a very easy one to make.

"I was proud of what I had achieved with England. I had served my qualification, tried my hardest and had some great fun along the way. But that was in the past now and I wanted to look forward to the next stage of my life."

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