Tony Greig hailed as 'godfather' of the modern game

Tony Greig

The cricket world today paid tribute to former England Test skipper and broadcaster Tony Greig, remembering him as "the godfather of modern cricket" due to his influence in shaping the game.

South African-born Greig died Saturday after a heart attack at his Sydney home at the age of 66, as he battled lung cancer diagnosed just two months ago.

The towering Greig was remembered as being instrumental in the formation of late Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer's breakaway World Series Cricket (WSC) contest staged from 1977-79, which sent shockwaves through the sport.

"It could be argued that Tony Greig was the godfather of modern cricket, the man who believed the game should be entertaining and a little irreverent but always ruthlessly competitive," wrote The Australian's Peter Lalor. "Cricket has lost one of its giants."

Broadcasting doyen Richie Benaud, a former Australian captain who shared the Channel Nine commentary box for decades with Greig, described him as a dynamic cricketer, a fearless thinker and an entertainer.

"I found him a fellow full of courage; that was before he was ill," Benaud said.

"He was full of courage because of many things that had happened to him in his cricket life and his outside life as well. It's one of those things where we know this was inevitable but there's always a sadness when you see a good friend go."

Kerry Packer's son James said Greig "stood shoulder to shoulder with my father at times when it was not always fashionable".

"Together with the backing of other key players and supporters, they forged a brave new age for both cricketers and spectators alike. For that alone, every fan of the game is in Tony Greig's debt.

He added: "But he was much more than that. Our cricket enemy turned our mate; his famous car keys stuck in the pitch to demonstrate its hardness, and his legendary but friendly on-air barneys with the great Bill Lawry."

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