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Tony Greig dies aged 66
Tony Greig. Picture: Getty Images

Former England captain and cricket commentator Tony Greig has died after suffering a heart attack. He was 66.

Greig had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, but he suffered a heart attack at his home this morning and died at about 1.45pm (AEDT).

“He was rushed into St Vincent’s hospital. The staff of the emergency department worked on Mr Greig to no avail,” St Vincent’s spokesman David Faktor said.

He said it’s understood his family were with him when he died.

The Sydney-based, South Africa-born Greig 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.

Upon his return to Australia from the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, he had fluid removed from the right lung and testing revealed he had lung cancer.

An abrasive character who loved stirring up Aussie crowds during the 1974-75 Ashes series, Greig played 58 Tests and boasted an handy allround record of 3599 runs at 40.43 and 141 wickets at 32.20.

Greig was a key figure in recruiting international players for Kerry Packer’s anti-establishment World Series Cricket which began in 1977, the year Greig played his last Test for England.

In the 1980s Greig became a high-profile member of the Nine Network’s cricket commentary team.

While many fans would have gladly pensioned him into retirement, Greig was a showbiz-survivor and held his place on the team right up until earlier this summer when ill health forced him to take a break for medical treatment.

Nine described Greig as a “beloved” figure.

“Tony Greig is a name synonymous with Australian cricket - from his playing days as the English captain we loved to hate, to his senior role in the revolution of World Series Cricket, his infamous car keys in the pitch reports and more than three decades of colourful and expert commentary,” Nine said.

Greig’s involvement in WSC caused an abrupt end to his international cricket career.

“When the enterprise was made public, his stocks plummeted,“ respected cricket writer Gideon Haigh wrote on the cricinfo website.

“He lost not just England’s captaincy, but what would have been a record-breaking benefit.

“He was diminished, too, by his indifferent on-field performances in World Series Cricket, where he seemed to cast himself as pantomime villain.

“Nonetheless, subsequent generations of professional cricketers owe him a debt of gratitude.”

Greig first became aware he had a problem during Australia’s one-day series against Pakistan in Dubai in August and September.

Initially diagnosed with bronchitis in May, the condition lingered and, by the time of the ICC World Twenty20 that finished in Sri Lanka in October, Greig had tests that revealed a small lesion at the base of his right lung.

On his return to Australia he had fluid removed from the right lung and testing revealed he had lung cancer.

Last month, he spoke to the Channel Nine commentary team, of which he is usually a member, during their coverage of the first Test between Australia and South Africa in Brisbane.

Greig was candid about the disease.

“It’s not good. The truth is I’ve got lung cancer. Now it’s a case of what they can do,” Greig said.

He had an operation later that month.