Greig: Lillee was a fairy
And Freddie wasn't up to much either, says former England skipper
By Simon Dilger. Last Updated: 18/05/11 10:33am
Greig called Lillie a fairy and Flintoff a 'Johnny-come-lately'
Legendary fast bowler Dennis Lillee was a "bit of a fairy" according to former England captain Tony Greig.
Greig's derogatory comments about one of cricket's greatest bowlers, made during an interview with the BBC, are likely to cause a furore in Australia, where he has spent the bulk of his life since retirement.
Lillee was at the height of his powers during the 1970s when South Africa-born Greig was playing for England.
Greig, who scored a Test hundred against Lillee and Jeff Thomson at Brisbane in 1974, admitted that the pair were two of the most fearsome bowlers he had ever faced.
But the former all-rounder said that Lillee did not enjoy being on the receiving end of the sort of treatment he inflicted on batsmen.
"If you treated the Aussies in the way they treated everyone else, they found it a little bit foreign," he said.
"I think they thought they had some sort of exclusivity on it and they didn't like it.
"There were people like Dennis Lillee, who was a past master at letting people have it, but he was a bit of a fairy when he got hit himself. I must say I got a lot of pleasure out of that."
Tony Grieg Quotes of the week
"There were people like Dennis Lillee, who was a past master at letting people have it, but he was a bit of a fairy when he got hit himself.
"I must say I got a lot of pleasure out of that. I was an all-rounder so I could afford to dish it out, because I was going to get it anyhow.
"Lillee was up there with the two best fast bowlers I have ever played against and Thomson was as quick as the quickest."
Greig, never one to shy away from controversy, also found time to have a go at former England star Andrew Flintoff, who he labelled a 'Johnny-come-lately'.
The 64-year-old, whose career averages are superior to Flintoff's, at least admitted that fellow all-rounder Ian Botham was a "very, very good cricketer" but said that Flintoff had failed to fulfil his potential.
"As far as Flintoff is concerned he is a bit of a Johnny-come-lately. I don't think he lived up to his potential.... I am perfectly happy to put my numbers up against his any time."
Tony Grieg Quotes of the week
"As far as Flintoff is concerned he is a bit of a Johnny-come-lately," said Greig. "I don't think he lived up to his potential.
"I would have liked to have seen a bit more of him. Perhaps he was overused, overworked a bit, but I am perfectly happy to put my numbers up against his any time."
Greig has a long history of upsetting people and his latest comments, timed to coincide with the publication of a new biography about the former England captain, will do nothing to harm that reputation, or indeed the sales of his book.
He infamously said he wanted to make Clive Lloyd's men 'grovel' prior to the 1976 home series against the West Indies, a remark he came to regret after England lost the series 3-0.
The following year he was sacked as captain when it emerged he had encouraged several top players to defect to Australian media mogul Kerry Packer's 'rebel' World Series Cricket (WSC).
Since his retirement he has carved out a lengthy career as a television cricket commentator in Australia, where many fans accuse him of bias against their side.