Inspiring visit

CRICKET

MANY people may not know that Tony Greig was an epileptic.

Greig, who died of a heart attack last week, reportedly had an "aura" right before he would suffer a seizure, and put off and postponed his day-to-day activities until he knew he would be OK.

Greig visited Dubbo with his cricket team during the 1980s, where he met and inspired the Baker family, of which a member suffered the same illness.

As an epileptic, Tracey Baker (now Evans) said to her mother more than 30 years ago that if Tony Greig could live with epilepsy, so could she.

Now in the wake of Greig's death, Tracey's mother Wendy fondly remembers the time the cricketing legend gave her daughter hope.

"Not many people know that Tony Greig had epilepsy," she said.

"I heard that before he was due to board a plane, he would have an aura that he was about to have an epileptic fit and would wait for another flight." Baker explained that when Greig came to Dubbo he played a game at Victoria Park's No.1 Oval where her three children were playing. At the time, Baker was the epileptic nurse of the Dubbo region and worked at the event.

"My kids (sons Brian and Peter, and daughter Tracey) were in their long whites playing a game of cricket, and there was this man giving a talk to them about cricket, which was wonderful. A man I had always admired and who people called a bit of a grump because of who they saw on television," she said.

"After Tony left, I asked my daughter 'what did you think about that?' and she said 'if it's good enough for Tony Greig, it's good enough for me'."

She said her daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 16.

But more than a week ago, the Bakers learnt of Greig's shock passing.

"It was very sad. My husband and I watched the news over and over again. I called Tracey and she just couldn't believe it... we were all really surprised," she said.

"For a well-known person, many people were unaware of his epileptic condition. His effect on the younger generation was just outstanding and his visit to Dubbo was an example of him reaching out to local people, like my daughter."

At the time of his Dubbo visit, Greig appeared in a photo published in the Daily Telegraph along with the Baker children.

"The sporting world has lost a man who was very generous to the younger generation, someone who came up and talked to people in small towns like Dubbo... to me, he will always be remembered as that man," Baker said.

The cricketing world has lost another well-known personality, with the sudden passing of respected English cricket journalist and commentator Christopher Martin-Jenkins on Tuesday.

The British reporter was one of the voices of Test Match Cricket on BBC Radio and previously worked for The Daily Telegraph and The Times in London.

He was 67 years old and died of cancer.

As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, David Richardson, chief executive of the International Cricket Council, paid tribute to both Martin-Jenkins and Greig.

"Cricket has lost two of its most revered commentators in the last few days with the passing of both CMJ and, last week, of Tony Greig," he said.

"I know that press boxes around the world will be deeply saddened by the death of two giants of the game and we pass on our condolences to both their families."

anthony.cini@fairfaxmedia.com.au.

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