Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Tony Greig: England's greatest allrounder of my lifetime?

Who's been England's greatest allrounder in the years I have been following test cricket?

They say a true allrounder has a batting average higher than his bowling average. So here are the four obvious candidates ranked with that in mind. The second column is batting average, the third is bowling average and the fourth is the former minus the latter.

Tony Greig           40.43    32.20   +8.23

Ian Botham          33.54    28.40   +5.14

Ben Stokes          35.48    31.99   +3.49

Andrew Flintoff     31.77    32.78   -1.01

I'm not that surprised by this outcome, because we seem to have forgotten just how good Greig was. As the video above shows, he was afraid of no one and could take the attack to the very best bowlers, yet he also once spent seven hours in India scoring a century that set up a test win.

Greig could swing the ball and, though his pace wasn't express, his height meant he could get awkward bounce. He could also bowl off spin, once taking 13 wickets to win a test and draw a series in the West Indies.

He was a fine fielder anywhere and formed part of what I think is the best England slip cordon I've seen - Brearley, Greig, Hendrick - in the 1977 Ashes series.

And he was an inspirational captain - I've heard Mike Brearley say that he made you want to play well for him.

I saw the first day of England last game before Greig took over the captaincy from Mike Denness. This was the Edgbaston test of 1975, which was Graham Gooch's first. My memory is that Gooch spent all day at long leg and no one spoke to him.

Contrast that with the video of Phil Edmonds's debut later in the same series that I posted recently. Encouraging and celebrating, Greig is everywhere.

England's greatest allrounder of my lifetime? Quite possibly.

1 comment:

Mark cox said...

Absolutely agree Jonathan is reputation was probably tarnished by his comments before the 76 West Indies series and the subsequent packer affair a year later. I sense though people are beginning to realise just how good he was. You àre right about the slip cordon of 77 rounded off by botham at gulley from 3rd test onwards and derek Randall at cover point who was at his peak as a fielder famously running out rick mcCosker backing up in the 4th test!