Tony Greig and Spirit of Cricket? Yes, he delivered the MCC’s Spirit of Cricket lecture at Lord’s on Tuesday. One cannot help dwelling on Greig’s controversial past while reading about what he had to say in his lecture.
Greig was the one who ran Alvin Kallicharran out as the batsman was heading back to the pavilion at Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 1974 assuming the ball was dead. Greig did so probably because umpire Douglas Sang Hue had not called time although Greig’s teammate and wicketkeeper Alan Knott had uprooted the stumps after Bernard Julien faced the last ball of the day. Sang Hue declared Kallicharran out which caused mayhem at the ground. Next morning, England captain Mike Denness withdrew the appeal and Kallicharran resumed his innings.
Greig’s ‘spirit’ was again on display two years later when he, as Clive Lloyd’s opposing captain, said he’d like to make the West Indians ‘grovel’, a word the Caribbeans didn’t take lightly.
As a result, the 1976 series scoreline read England 0, West Indies 3. It’s not fair to be overly cynical over what cricket personalities are doing now and relate it to their playing days although there are some amusing examples which cannot be erased in the game’s history books: Clive Lloyd pulling up captains for slow over-rates as match referee when his fast bowling crew took ages to complete their overs and Chris Broad ending up as a match referee in 2003, after smashing down the stumps when he was bowled by Steve Waugh off his body in the 1988 Bicentennial Test at Sydney.
Slamming the Indian cricket board has become an international pastime. Not many cricketing personalities from overseas can go through an interview/speech without mentioning how the BCCI is playing the perfect villain. It’s a hypocritical situation because even as India oppose the Decision Review System, the other cricket boards are happy being silent about it. Why wasn’t this issue put to vote at the ICC meeting in Kuala Lumpur? It’s simple: The members boards are too afraid of going against India. So is that India’s problem, or the world’s? The continued dependency on India’s financial machinery is the heart of this problem and it’s high time experts like Greig reach out for their magnifying glass to read the fine print.
In a perfect world this shouldn’t be the case, but the fact is that other boards are feeding off India’s big plate. How else does one explain the logic of Sri Lanka hosting India for yet another limited overs series next month. Since 2002, India have visited Sri Lanka every year save 2003, 2007 and 2011. That Greig loves Sri Lanka (it is quite evident in his commentary) is another matter.
Meanwhile, the BCCI is not shifting from their stance on the DRS. Probably, they should because it is believed that most boards are convinced that the system, although infallible, is contributing to the reduction of umpiring errors. Pundits and fans have a point if they bring up the fact that India’s great batting line-up was not subjected to DRS except in the 2008 Test series in Sri Lanka where they fared poorly.
Greig, who hasn’t been seen in an Indian commentary box for a while did not miss his chance to attack the Indian Premier League: “Unfortunately, India is pre-occupied with money and Twenty/20 cricket, and sees its IPL and Champions League as more important than a proper international calendar.” It’s a comment which will provoke fellow commentator Ravi Shastri to repeat what he said recently: “When someone gets a stomach upset, it’s because of the IPL. If someone gets an outside edge, it is because of
Clayton Murzello is MiD DAY’s Group Sports Editor