LEGENDARY cricketing figure Tony Greig has been diagnosed with a form of lung cancer. He will wait and evaluate a detailed prognosis before deciding on treatment.
“I have had a few scrapes in my life and this is another one,” Greig told The Sunday Telegraph from his eastern suburbs home.
“(His wife) Vivian and I are going to put the boxing gloves on and fight this like we’ve never fought anything before.”
Greig will enter hospital this week for surgery to take a sample from his lung, which will allow doctors to properly diagnose the extent of the cancer and chart a course of action.
Nine CEO David Gyngell has sent the network’s best wishes to Greig.
“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,” Mr Gyngell said in a statement today.
“Likewise, I’m sure, every cricket fan at the SCG, MCG, the Gabba and stadiums across Australia and the world will be cheering for him through his treatment.”
Greig, 66, first became aware he had a problem during Australia’s one-day series against Pakistan in Dubai in August and September, on which he was commentating. Initially diagnosed with bronchitis in May, the condition lingered and, by the time of the ICC World Twenty20 that finished in Sri Lanka earlier this month, Greig had tests that revealed a small lesion at the base of his right lung.
On his return to Australia a fortnight ago, he had “a lot of fluid” removed from the right lung. Testing revealed he had lung cancer.
A former England captain, the South African-born Greig is a household name in Australia after defecting to be one of the spearheads of Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket in 1977.
His integral role in the formation of WSC, and his strong friendship with Packer, was showcased in Channel Nine’s blockbuster mini-series Howzat.
Greig was bestowed the honour of delivering the prestigious Cowdrey Spirit Of Cricket Lecture at Lords in June this year, receiving rave reviews and proving old wounds between he and the MCC had long healed.
He has lived in Sydney since the late 1970s and has commentated cricket for Nine for 33 years, with the quartet of he, Bill Lawry, Ian Chappell and Richie Benaud becoming the voices of the Australian summer.
He is unsure if he will commentate for Nine during the upcoming summer, which begins with a Test at the Gabba against South Africa on November 9.
“At this stage, the summer is totally up in the air,” Greig said. “My priority, 100 per cent, is my family. They will come first.”
Greig is expected to take guidance from Nine boss and close friend David Gyngell. He formed a strong bond with Packer and the “first man on Australian television” Bruce Gyngell from the start of World Series Cricket and met their young sons James Packer and David Gyngell, when they were in primary school.
“This is a difficult time for Tony and, knowing him like all the family at Nine knows him, it’ll take more than this to stop him,” Gyngell said.
“Every fan at the SCG and MCG and cricket stadiums around the world will be rooting for this great man, as are all his Nine colleagues. At a personal level, I’ve known Tony Greig most of my life . He’s a generous, big-hearted, inherently decent bloke. I’m thinking of him and his family.”
Greig and his second wife Vivian have two young children – daughter Beau, 12 and son Tom, 10, who is a talented cricketer.
He also has two adult children from a previous marriage – daughter Sam, 39, and son Mark, 37 and is close to his siblings – brother Ian, also a former English Test cricketer who lives in Brisbane, and sisters Sally and Molly. On Saturday night, Greig phoned his 93-year-old mother Joyce in South Africa to inform her.
Greig is the second Nine personality to be diagnosed with cancer in as many weeks after it was revealed Peter Harvey was battling cancer of the pancreas.