Third Man likes Tony Greig. What you see – all six foot six of him in a world populated by the vertically challenged – is what you get.
Tony has enlivened many an evening below stairs at the Great House, his huge frame, similarly oversized hat and immense Scottish brogue filling the Butler’s pantry as the staff enjoyed the scraps and dregs left by those who inhabit the world above stairs.
“My advice to the lot of you is to grab your share, not down here in the shadows but up there in the full light of the candelabra.”
It is this colonial approach and the freedom from humbug that is most admired by those stuck in the Old Country ways.
A night with Tony is like a visit to see Dick Wittington at the Royal Theatre, Bath. For Tony, there is no business like show business and there is no show business like cricket.
“You should have seen their faces when I told them I didn’t want their f**king captaincy any longer. They went down the list of alternatives. ‘Already got him signed up,’ says I. ‘Him to.’ ‘And him’. ‘Got the bloody lot of them.’ ‘Going to be the greatest show on earth and no thanks to yous lot.”
Once Tony brought Richie Benaud with him. Now there was a human calculator, ‘Five Brains’ Benaud. He knew the form and odds, alright ol’ Richie did.
At the time when the Squire, who has a little vineyard in the Hunter Valley, introduced Kerry Packer to Benaud, he told the magnate, “You only meet a Richie Benaud once in your life. Make the most of it Mr Packer. That’s what I say.”
That may have been the origin of Kerry’s famous remark about Alan Bond, to whom in 1987 he sold his Channel Nine business for A$s 1.05 billion before buying it back from him three years later for A$ 250 million.
“You only get one Alan Bond in your lifetime, and I’ve had mine”.
Packer was as good as the Squire for turning a phrase and no mistake. In 1976, his opening gambit with the Australian Cricket Board was, “There is a little bit of the whore in all of us, gentlemen. What is your price?”
Which is perhaps why, when the MCC (or the Premier
Visa Club) wanted a snappy name for their series of events to honour those who have demonstrated special service to the business of cricket, it called them the ‘What’s Your Price?’ Lectures.
Headquarters phoned the Squire last night to give Him advanced warning that the 2012 ‘What’s Your Price’ lecturer will be none other than Anthony William Grieg.
It’ll be good to see Tony back at the Great House next year, though those below stairs will have to put up with a liberal sprinkling of mockery for still ‘knowing their place’ in the system.
MCC president Phillip Hodson told the press: “Fiercely competitive on the field and hugely insightful off the field, Tony Greig has had a wonderful career in the game. Never one to shun the limelight or shy away from voicing his opinion, I am sure that his MCC What’s Your Price
Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture will be in keeping with the way he played the game.”
“Tony’ll make them grovel, Third Man. Mark my words,” speculated the Squire.