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Ex-England stars Ian Botham, Bob Willis and Nasser Hussain praise the contribution made by the late Tony Greig

Tony Greig 1946-2012

Tony Greig at Headingley in 1975

Former England cricketers Ian Botham, Bob Willis, Nasser Hussain and Mark Ramprakash have paid tribute to Tony Greig who died on Saturday in Australia at the age of 66.

Greig, who played for England during the 1970s and also skippered the side, suffered a heart attack at his home in Sydney. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer a few months ago.

He played 58 Test matches for England and was a key figure in the national side when Ian Botham made his international debut in a limited-overs game in August 1976.

Botham remembers Greig

Botham, speaking about the former all-rounder, said: "He was my first-ever captain for England. I'm very sad and very emotional.

"He was flamboyant and extroverted, and he made things happen. He was an amazing guy and so full of energy.

"He changed cricket for everybody as we know it now. The game suddenly leaped forward and players started to get paid more substantial amounts.

"He revolutionised the game and it had to be done. The players of today have a lot to be thankful for in Tony and Kerry Packer."

Another former England skipper, Bob Willis, added: "He revolutionised cricket.

"He had a tremendous effect on my own career. He persuaded me to get really, really fit with long-distance running and that totally revolutionised my career.

"I never had another injury after that and went on to take over 300 Test wickets. It's a very, very sad day for cricket. Sixty-six is no sort of innings."

Nasser Hussain, who led the side until 2004, said he knew Greig very well from his role as a TV commentator and analyst.

Hussain said it was only a few months ago that he was sharing a taxi with the South African-born Greig in the sub-continent.

Hussain praises Greig

He said: "I am extremely sad and shocked to hear of his death. He changed the game forever.

"Because of Tony and Kerry Packer and the World Series, the world realised that they had to start paying their cricketers.

"One-day cricket became much more dramatic with the coloured clothing and white balls.

"Television became very interested because the cricket they saw was much more exciting than some of the cricket that went on before."

And ex-England batsman Mark Ramprakash went on: "He became an icon as a commentator.

"His commentating was so full of character, there are certain people who have voices that are synonymous with their chosen sport and Tony Greig was one of those."