SYDNEY (AP):Tony Greig, the South Africa-born cricketer who became England captain and later continued to make his mark on the game as a revered commentator in Australia, died yesterday of a heart attack as he battled what appeared to be incurable lung cancer.
The Sydney-based Greig, 66, 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.
Yesterday, he suffered a heart attack at his Sydney home.
"He was rushed into St Vincent's Hospital. The staff of the emergency department worked on Mr Greig to no avail," hospital spokesman David Faktort said.
Upon his return to Australia from the World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka, he had fluid removed from the right lung and testing revealed the cancer.
"It's not good," Greig said after the surgery. "The truth is I've got lung cancer. Now it's a case of what they can do."
A confident and occasionally abrasive character, Greig revelled in the on-field contest and at times stirring up crowds, such as during the 1974-75 Ashes series.
Standing 1.96 metres (6-foot-6) with a shock of blond hair, Greig was an imposing and charismatic figure whose strong performances and ability to bond the team earned him the England captaincy. He played 58 Tests for England - 14 as captain - and scored 3,599 runs at an average of 40.43 and took 141 wickets at 32.20.
"He was a giant of a man who played a major role in the changing face of cricket during the 1970s," said David Collier, the chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board. "He will be much missed in cricketing circles both in this country and around the world and we send our sympathies and condolences to Vivian and his family."
Australia test captain Michael Clarke said the news was difficult for the team as it prepares for next week's third Test against Sri Lanka.
"I was only speaking with Tony a couple of days ago so news of his passing is absolutely devastating," Clarke said. "Personally, he has also been a great mentor for me, providing great advice through the good times and the bad."
Greig was a key figure in recruiting international players for Australian millionaire Kerry Packer's anti-establishment World Series Cricket which began in 1977, abruptly ending his England Test career.
In the 1980s, Greig became a high-profile member of the commentary team for Australia's Nine Network and his decades behind the microphone made him an institution in Australia's sporting life.