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Cricket legend Tony Greig dead at 66
Nick Pearson, ninemsn with AAP
15:00 AEST Sat Dec 29 2012

Former England captain and cricket commentator Tony Greig has died after suffering a heart attack. He was 66.

Greig had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, but he suffered a heart attack at his home on Saturday morning and died about 1.45pm (AEDT).

"He was rushed into St Vincent's hospital. The staff of the emergency department worked on Mr Greig to no avail," St Vincent's spokesman David Faktor said.

He said it's understood his family were with him when he died.

The Sydney-based, South Africa-born Greig was initially diagnosed with bronchitis in May, but the condition lingered and in October he had tests that revealed a small lesion at the base of his right lung.

Upon his return to Australia from the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, he had fluid removed from the right lung and testing revealed he had lung cancer.

He spoke last month of his battle.

"It's not good. The truth is I've got lung cancer. Now it's a case of what they can do," Greig told Nine at the time.

His wife Vivian on Saturday said: "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."

Nine Network boss David Gyngell was among the first to pay tribute to Greig on Saturday.

"It's a deeply upsetting time for his family and for everyone associated with Tony at Nine, and indeed for many, many others who came to know and love the man," Gyngell said.

"Tony has been part of Nine's commentary team since 1979. He's not only been part of our family, but he's had a seat at the head of the table."

An abrasive character who loved stirring up Aussie crowds during the 1974-75 Ashes series, Greig played 58 Tests and boasted a handy all-around record of 3599 runs at 40.43 and 141 wickets at 32.20.

Greig was a key figure in recruiting English and other international players for media tycoon Kerry Packer's breakaway World Series Cricket which was staged from 1977 to 1979 and sent shockwaves through the arch-conservative sport.

Packer's rebel series was his response to the Australian Cricket Board's refusal to give Packer's Nine Network exclusive Test broadcast rights.

WSC helped improve remunerations for players and dragged the sport into the modern age of day-night matches.

In the 1980s, Greig became a high-profile member of the Nine Network's cricket commentary team and continued in the role until ill health sidelined him only a couple of months ago.

A statement from James Packer read:

"Tony Greig was a larger-than-life figure, who apart from his considerable talents as a cricketer and then a commentator, played an absolutely pivotal role in the success of World Series Cricket, which changed the game forever for the better.

"Tony stood shoulder to shoulder with my father at times when it was not always fashionable. And together with the backing of other key players and supporters they forged a brave new age for both cricketers and spectators alike. For that alone, every fan of the game is in Tony Greig's debt.

"But he was much more than that. Our cricket enemy turned our mate – his famous car keys stuck in the pitch to demonstrate its hardness, and his legendary but friendly on-air barneys with the great Bill Lawry.

"We shall miss him dearly. And to Vivian and Tony's daughters Samantha and Beau and sons Mark and Tom, I extend our family’s deepest and most heartfelt sympathies."

Nine Entertainment Company CEO David Gyngell said:

"The Nine Network has lost part of its extensive cricketing DNA with the tragic passing this afternoon of the legendary Tony Greig.

"It's a deeply upsetting time for his family and for everyone associated with Tony at Nine, and indeed for many, many others who came to know and love the man.

"Tony has been part of Nine's commentary team since 1979. He's not only been part of our family, but he's had a seat at the head of the table.

"He's been a great bloke – one of the terrific characters of the game both as a player and then a commentator, never short of an opinion but always a generous man with a big heart. You just cannot say fairer than that.

"He will be sadly missed, and our special thoughts go out to Vivian, and Tony's daughters Samantha and Beau, and sons Mark and Tom."

Vivian Greig confirmed that Tony had passed away earlier today after a battle with cancer.

"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," she said.


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