Thursday, November 22, 2012

True Ambassador of Sri Lanka Cricket Tony Greig

The word "Belief" can be defined as a feeling of real and true trust on what one believes. When people face problems, fall sick, they sometimes seek spiritual assistance by making "Vows", performing "Bodhi Poojas" to the Bo-Tree where the Buddha attained Enlightenment. They earnestly believe that these rituals will be a blessing to help the sick one to recover his or her illnesses.

An unquestioning "Faith", the confidence will always help the patient, as it will bring much confidence to him. Mentally it will be a soothing balm to his mind.

This may have been the main reason that "Bodhi Poojas" are presently very closely linked in the Bodhi Culture of the Sri Lankan Buddhist. Therefore, whenever one of their dear one's fall sick, they hold Bodhi Poojas by offering flowers, watering and reciting verses invoking the blessings.

A Bodhi Pooja will be held at the Gangaramaya Temple, Colombo today at 5.00 p.m. to invoke blessings on former South African born England Cricket Captain, internationally reputed cricket commentator par-excellence, a true Ambassador of Sri Lanka - Tony Greig, whom all Sri Lankan cricket fans love.

I understand that this meritorious deed is arranged by the former Chairman/President of Sri Lanka Cricket, present Colombo District Parliamentarian Tilanga Sumathipala.

Tall 6 feet 7 inches, majestic, charismatic, lovable personality Tony Greig was one of the cricket's Best All-Rounders. He was a swashbuckling batsman and his off-drives and lofted drives were a treat to watch, when he was in full cry.

A.W. Greig (Tony) was born in South Africa on 6th October 1945. Later, their parents settled down in England. He played for Sussex. He gained his England cap. In 1972, he shone as a complete all-round cricketer in India. In the Final Test in Mumbai, he scored 148. In this series, he scored 382 runs at 63.67.

Tony Greig, toured Caribbean next season, scored 430 runs with two centuries and captured 24 wicket at 22.62 runs a piece. In Bridgetown, he hammered 148 runs and captured 6 for 164. He was the first English cricketer to score a hundred and capture five (5) wickets in an innings of the same Test for England.

In 1974-75, Tony Greig, blasted the two great Australian fast bowlers - Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson to the tune of 110 at Brisbane. Incidently, this was the first century by an English batsman at Brisbane Grounds since 1936-1937.

I have met Tony Greig in Sri Lanka, India, England and Pakistan in the Box. Unassuming Tony, is a friendly personality and the conversations I had with him was a real education. In fact, when I wrote my book titled "Bradman Yugaya-Era" he obliged me and wrote the "Foreward" to my book, which I consider as a great honour bestowed on me.

Tony Greig was appointed captain of England in 1976-1977. Under his astute leadership, England won the Test series against India 3-1. He became the first to achieve the double of 3,000 runs and 100 wickets in his 49th Test. In the Kolkota Test, he scored 103 runs.

His statistics given below shows what a great all-rounder he was.

In 58 Tests, he scored 3,599 runs - average 40.43, with 8 hundreds. He captured 141 wickets at an average of 32.20, claiming 5 wickets in an innings six times and pouched 87 catches.

He played 350 first-class matches, scored 16,660 runs at an average of 31.19. He took 856 wickets. Average 28.85. He was a brilliant slip fielder of his era. He held 345 catches. He scored 20 half centuries.

Tony Greig played a key-role in Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket, which revolutionized cricket in the world. After WSC was born, he was removed from the captaincy of England. Yet, he successfully continued to play for England under Mike Brearley.

Tony Greig and I had the distinction of commentating on the World Cup Finals in 1996, played at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, Pakistan. While Tony was describing the "win hit" of Sri Lanka, when Arjuna Ranatunga glided Macgrath through vacant slip position, in Television; I described it to Sri Lanka, through the air-waves of SLBC which are unforgettable memories for two of us.

In 1978, Tony Greig migrated to Sydney, Australia and started his career as Chairman of an Insurance Company. Today, he is one of the leading commentators in the world. He is a man, bold enough to call spade a spade.

From the time coin is tossed, to interviewing the "Man of the Match" at the end of the match, he commentator, expressing his special sentiments. He is so popular among the cricket fans in the world as a TV commentator, without the charismatic Tony the commentary is like the Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark of Demnark. He is the most sought after commentator in the worlds.

Unassuming Tony is a gentleman par excellence who loves Sri Lanka, its people, history and culture. He is a superb after dinner speaker. He had the proud distinction of delivering the prestigious "Colin Cowdrey lecture," in 2012 at the Epic Centre of Cricket - Lord.

Dear Tony - I sent you an E-mail earlier, invoking blessings for a speedy recovery. On 22nd, I will be participating in the Bodhi Pooja to Bless you. We pray for you!

May the Triple Gem Bless You!

May God Bless You!

Courtesy - Daily News by Premasara Epasinghe