In the world of cricket Tony Greig will forever be associated with world series cricket–a shorter, more dynamic and televised form of the game. His speech at Lord’s this week was more of the Test match form. Long, and not so dynamic.
For a cricketer his delivery wasn’t helped by the length of the run-up to his main points. A 45-minute speech tends to obscure your view of the main points.
Tony Greig is known for being outspoken and having a view. And that’s what makes him the entertaining cricket commentator that he now is. We expected his speech to include some controversy and he didn’t disappoint.
Taking the spirit of cricket as his theme Greig expressed his love of the game and everything it’s done for him. His speech didn’t shy away from dealing with his dramatic departure from mainstream cricket when he set up world series cricket with the late Australian media mogul Kerry Packer. That wasn’t exactly cricket. And so he had to deal with it.
And that’s the problem he faced throughout his speech. His own cricketing career didn’t always evoke a spirit of cricket. Professional cricket is one thing and amateur cricket another. His speech acknowledged that.
Reading from his prepared speech Tony Greig made his main observation that India’s cricketing bodies are not working within the right spirit. This was the contentious stuff that his audience expected. It’s not a new claim. But his speech made clear his views without setting out a clear formula for resolution.
But clarity was sometimes a problem. It was a long speech with some long rambling sentences that didn’t justify their inclusion in the script.
The speech will prove interesting to any cricket aficionado not least because of his reminiscences, anecdotes and stories. But it didn’t deliver in terms of a strategy for re-creating the spirit of cricket. That was too much.
When it came to questions and answers it was different. He came alive, fielding questions at will, batting them back to the questioner with interest and thoroughly enjoying his time at the crease. Perhaps a question and answer session might have better suited him than the long-form speech game.