Lankan cricketers pay tribute to their biggest fan

Ranatunga says he was first to predict Sri Lanka would win World Cup in 1996

Sri Lankan cricketers paid emotional tributes overwhelmed by the loss of one of their biggest fans Tony Greig who died of a heart attack at the age of 66.

Sri Lanka's World Cup winning skipper Arjuna Ranatunga said that former England captain and celebrated commentator stood by Sri Lanka when most others did not, according to NDTV.

"He was very forthright in his support over Murali incident," referring to the controversy over Muttiah Muralitharan's 'no ball' in Australia in 1995 and 1999.

Ranatunga said that Greig was the first to predict that Sri Lanka would win the World Cup under his leadership in 1996.

"Not only was he a great admirer of Sri Lanka cricket, he also loved our country," Ranatunga said, adding cricket world would be poorer without Greig.

The former England captain was made a brand ambassador of Sri Lanka tourism at the end of the conflict with the LTTE.

Former Sri Lankan captain and master blaster Sanath Jayasuriya told the 'Sunday Leader' that Greig was a big supporter of Sri Lanka cricket especially after they won the 1996 cricket world cup beating Australia in the final.

Greig became a huge fan of Jayasuriya and his opening partner Romesh Kaluwitharana revolutionised the 50-over format with their pinch hitting in the first 15 overs.
“They way he promoted me and Kalu was amazing. He was like a Sri Lankan. His death is a big loss to us,” Jayasuriya said.

"Tony Greig's memory will be etched in the memories of Sri Lankans forever because he promoted spoke on our behalf when international teams refused to travel to Sri Lanka during the war years," Jayasuriya, how a Member of Parliament told Rupavahini.

"He was the one who fondly called me 'Little Kalu' and gave us inspiration to win the World Cup with his words of encouragement during the troubled Australian tour before that," added Kaluwitharana.
Former Sri Lankan cricketer Russel Arnold meanwhile tweeted saying Greig’s death was a shock. Arnold was a co-commentator with Greig.

“Tony will be very fondly remembered for embracing SL players from 95 onwards and getting behind and promoting us across the world,"  former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara was quoted as saying.

"He was a great human being and a great voice for Sri Lanka," added Sri Lankan batsman Thilan Samaraweera.



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