Former England captain Tony Greig dies at 66

Tony Greig, the former England captain, has died after a heart attack at the age of 66. He had been recovering after an operation to treat lung cancer, Tributes came from Greig’s contemporaries in world cricket, acknowledging the achievements of a player who was controversial but widely respected.

Born in South Africa, Greig played 58 Tests for England between 1972 and 1977, 14 of them as captain. He was a fine batsman and a decent bowler, although not quite so astute at diplomacy. He made the mistake of provoking the West Indies side in 1976 by saying that England "would make them grovel". The ensuing series was a humiliation for Greig and his team.

He was a key figure in Kerry Packer’s breakaway World Series in 1977, losing the England captaincy because of his decision to join the Packer circus. His career lasted barely a year more before he retired to take up a position as a commentator. His forthright views made him a broadcasting natural and he worked for Australian TV for the remainder of his life.

Greig’s wife Vivian issued a statement: "Our family wants to extend our gratitude for the support and condolences we have received and would ask for privacy at this very sad time."

One of the first tributes came from the current Australia captain Michael Clarke. "I was only speaking with Tony a couple of days ago so news of his passing is absolutely devastating," Clarke said. "Cricket will be much poorer for his loss."

England wicket-keeper Matt Prior tweeted his own tribute. "Can't believe one of my heroes Tony Greig has passed away. One of the greatest voices in cricket and will be sorely missed."

Former Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee, who delighted in his tussles with Greig in the 70s, said, "Tony was a tough opponent who took on all opposition with aggression and a determination to win. We will not forget the way he stirred the viewers in a similar vein to the way he did to opposition teams."

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