Tributes are normally written once a person passes on & hardly during situations like this. But this one caused such a turbulence in me, that I badly felt the need to vent everything out here.
It was one of the most pleasant evenings in Bangalore city when I read this article. It struck me like a bolt of lightning that has never struck me before and I truly couldn't find words to express my shock even after a few minutes. My mind just froze. I was all paralyzed, barely able to even say "WHA..A..AA...AA..T !!!". That was how overwhelming it was.
I shudder to even think beyond the headline - the consequences, the likely events, the ending, which, of course, I will just not be able to accept and come to terms with, if it isn't a happy one.
Tony Greig diagnosed with cancer !! WTH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :'(
There, I finally said what I've been struggling to say ever since I read the news. Now, Tony doesn't quite have a reputation of being a great player, thanks to his "grovel" remarks against the West Indian team long ago, which I came to know about after watching "Fire in Babylon". He has also been in the wrong books of people for some racist comments, I gather.
Well, I'm not here to talk about all that. I'm focusing on just THE ONE aspect of him which makes him THE WORLD'S MOST LOVED GUY in the area - Cricket commentary. My mind travels far back to 1996 - I was all of 9 years old, when the first of many legendary matches happened at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore - India versus Pakistan - it was a quarter-final. Just take a look at this video:
Now, just imagine watching this innings with Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and Ramiz Raja describing them instead of Greig. ANYONE else, for that matter! Do you think the video still has life, magic and bliss in it? There are some things which JUST CANNOT BE REPLACED AT ALL - Tony Greig's commentary epitomizes the statement.
This match isn't all - The Indian cricket team, especially Sachin Tendulkar owes a fair percentage of their frenzy to Tony Greig. SURELY, some of the greatest Tendulkar moments in the history of cricket i.e. his all-time best innings against Australia at Sharjah in the desert storm series being the best example, have been described by none other than Greig. I have lost count of the number of times I've absolutely adored the phrase "Sache in Tendowlkar's havin a ball !!" . Tony is not a commentator. He is a musician, a singer and magician, all in one. If ever there was an synonym for the phrase "Music to the ears", it is Tony Greig describing Tendulkar's batting. Hardly anything in the world can sound sweeter than that !
Tony has been a CRUCIAL part of some of THE MOST UNFORGETTABLE MOMENTS of cricket - Harbhajan Singh's hat-trick against Australia in 2001, the greatest ODI ever - South Africa chasing 434 & scoring 438 against Australia .. MANY !!! There are LOADS of such matches, I can probably write another post just listing out those videos. I just feel uncomfortable doing so - each video reminds me of the present reality - something I increasingly want to reject.
Tony's no relative or family member of mine, that I've to express such sadness. But, in a way, to an urban Indian common man like me, who hasn't quite watched a lot of cricket matches in the stadium and has mainly seen them in the comforts of his living room, on his television set, Tony has had an influence nothing short of magical, firmly imprinting his place in the urban Indian common man's heart. In a way, Tony is largely responsible for making those priceless, happy moments the priceless, happy moments they are!
When we look back at our memories of having watched each of these priceless matches on TV, we will all remember 3 things - the matches themselves, our screams & celebrations and LASTLY - Tony Greig's musical description of each stroke. Tony breathed life into hundreds of cricket matches. He made television sets come alive, converted them into unceasing fun-and-frolic machines blissfully celebrating a cricket match and injected a booster dose of happiness into millions of Indian homes, causing smiles and laughter to billions of Indian faces. Oh, well, let me remove the "Indian" part here - it would be absolutely fair to say that Tony did that for billions all over the world.
The journey of a cricket ball right from the bowler's run-up until it gets deflected by the piece of wood until it ends up in a spectator's hands can NEVER be explained in a manner better than the theatrics-filled fashion of Tony.
"Now then ..Here's Mcgrath...what is Tendowlkar gonna do....HE'S SMASHED THIS HARD...IT'S SAILING IN THE AIR !!! IT'S GOING HIGHER AND HIGHER !!! THERE'S A MAN UNDER IT ...HE'S GOT IT !!!!!! NO ...HE HASN'T !!!!!!! HE HASN'T !!!!! INTO THE FENCE SHE GOWSSSSSS !!!!!!! SACHE IN TENDOWLKAR'S HAVIN A BALL !!!!!! WHAT A MEGGGGNIVASANT SHOT !!! THIS ONE'S A BIGGIE !!!!!!!! WHAT A PLAYA !!!!! THE CROWD ARE ON THEIR FEET.....UNBELIEVABLE SCENES HERE.....MCGRATH CAN'T BELIEVE IT !!!! "
Naah ..I still can't recreate the Tony effect completely! :) ...
My heart skips a beat when I try to think of how similar innings, when they happen in future, will look like on television, without such a voice to beautify them. That's perhaps the only good thing about Sachin's expected retirement - It just won't feel alright to see him scoring centuries and tearing the bowlers apart, without Tony being there to describe it.
There's just one likely successor I can see, to Tony - Danny Morrison ...but Danny's still far from it now ...long, long way to go !!
For all the joy and smiles he has brought to us over decades, cricket viewers owe him the most sincere prayers, for the most speedy recovery. I request everyone who has read this post to put in a minute of prayers for this man, in their daily prayers. Whether we all deserve to live or not, this happiness vendor SURELY does. Get well soon, Tony !!