'Tony brought life to live telecasts'

Ravi Shastri, Arun Lal pay tributes to a cricket giant.

Tony Greig in 1996.

“Right, what do you want to talk about?”

That used to be Tony Greig’s response, always with a smile, whenever this reporter approached him for an interview.

On Saturday, Tony passed away, just weeks after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

Later in the day, The Telegraph spoke to former India captain Ravi Shastri and former India opener Arun Lal, both of whom shared the commentary box with Tony, a former England captain, on umpteen occasions.

The following are excerpts from what they said

RAVI SHASTRI: I’m shocked... That’s the way I felt when (wife) Ritu called in the morning to convey the very sad news...

I’d begun my innings as a commentator with Tony in the same box (in Sri Lanka) and we were friends for two decades...

Tony, in my opinion, brought life to live telecasts... He was a professional, had his own mind and didn’t shy away from controversies... He had flair, had his own style...

It’s amazing that Tony was so popular in India during his playing days... For a foreigner to have that popularity meant he was special...

I still remember how he’d once lifted Vishy (Gundappa Viswanath) off the ground, much to everyone’s amusement...

This January, I’d cleaned up his bar on the evening of Day III of the SCG Test... Tony didn’t have any red wine left at home! He would be a terrific host... Sadly, I didn’t get the chance to reciprocate after the last time he’d called me over...

I’ll miss Tony... I’ll miss his banter... He was like family.

ARUN LAL: It’s a sad day... I learnt of Tony’s death on Twitter... Came as a huge shock as he’d been tweeting till just a couple of days ago...

Tony and I had become really good friends, so much so that we’d go on vacations together... If something worried me, it was the maniacal way he drove...

We’d actually had a bust-up during the 2003 World Cup, when he tried to correct my pronunciation of (Andy) Blignaut... He spoke in an offensive manner and I retaliated by picking on his pronunciation of (Muttiah) Muralidharan...

But despite being senior both as a cricketer and as a commentator, Tony took my response sportingly and even asked the producer to slot me with him as often as possible...

Some of our stars need to learn from Tony, who was such a wonderful human being...

Tony used to be upbeat about life and talk about an uncle or an aunt who’d lived to be 90-95... But look at what happened to him... Dying at 66... That’s young...

I’ll miss a good friend and somebody who would always be so encouraging, be so supportive.

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