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Sydney: Jan 3, 2013
Australia and Sri Lanka paid their respects to Tony Greig in a moving farewell to the former England captain before the start of play in the third Test.
A minute’s silence was observed by players wearing black armbands and fans in honour of Greig, who died on Saturday aged 66 from a heart attack while battling lung cancer.
A trademark Greig sunhat was placed symbolically on the stumps at the Sydney Cricket Ground before being taken away by his sons, Mark and Tom.
The sons embraced and headed from the ground before the start of play.
Greig’s family and the Channel 9 commentary team were invited by opposing captains Michael Clarke and Mahela Jayawardene to join the players and officials on the playing arena before the match started.
His wife Vivian was overcome by the cricket community’s response.
“I just wish he could have seen it,” she said. “I’m so grateful, truly grateful.
“For Channel 9 and Cricket Australia to organise this tribute to him is truly touching.”
Greig worked for Australia’s Nine Network for decades and his long-time colleagues Richie Benaud, Bill Lawry and Ian Chappell were among the television contingent standing alongside the Australia team at the pre-match tribute.
Broadcasting doyen Benaud said it was a sad day but “we will get on with it as he would have wished. And at the end of the day we will raise a glass to our gifted colleague and friend forever.”
“He was so strong in every way, a man I always liked to have on my side,” he said.
Organisers had urged fans to wear Greig-style wide-brimmed hats, and thousands responded under sunny skies.
Australian captain Clarke also wore a neckerchief, in Greig style, as a personal tribute, as he led the Australians onto the field.
“He was an inspiration to cricket,” Clarke said.
“The game owes Greigy a hell of a lot. If not for the great Kerry Packer and Tony Greig, the game wouldn’t be where it is today,” he added, referring to the rebel World Series Cricket which revolutionised the game.
Former Australian captain Ian Chappell remembered Greig as a courageous person. “He was combative but he was not about to take advantage of you,” said Chappell.
South African-born Greig, a swashbuckling middle-order batsman and medium-fast bowler who had recently been diagnosed with cancer, died shortly after suffering a cardiac arrest at his Sydney home.
He was instrumental in the formation of late Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer’s breakaway World Series Cricket contest staged from 1977-79, which left a lasting legacy on the game, including improved financial rewards for players.
Greig played 58 Tests for his adopted country England between 1972 and 1977, scoring 3,599 runs with eight centuries at 40.43 and capturing 141 wickets at 32.20.
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