Tony Greig and Edvard Grieg
An unexpected connection
21 May 2018
Tony Greig was one of my cricket heroes when I was at school. Born in South Africa he opted to play for England thanks to his British father. He was a tall attacking all-rounder who threatened to make the West Indies 'grovel' before the 1976 Test series (a boast that came back to haunt him later).
As a kid, I had noticed that my parents' record collection included an LP of Peer Gynt by the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg. Whenever I looked at the cover I always thought of the cricketer, but of course there was no connection - Grieg was clearly a Norwegian name, pronounced Greeg instead of Greg, that just happened to look like the British one.
Then, on a recent trip to Norway I read a short biography of Edvard Grieg and discovered that his great grandfather had been a Scot called Alexander Greig who had emigrated to Norway after the battle of Culloden. At some point his descendants had then switched the vowels in the middle of their surname.
Last week I happened upon a biography of Tony Greig. His father, Sandy Greig, was a Scot. Sandy was short for Alexander, a name that the family had been using for generations. Coincidence? No. It turns out that Tony and Edvard were distant cousins, possibly sixth cousins twice removed.
Cricket fans will remember that the commentator Richie Benaud used to welcome viewers with his legendary catchphrase "Morning everyone".
I'd like to imagine that at the mention of the word Morning, Tony Greig would feel impelled to hum his cousin's famous tune to himself...
"Da da da da diddy diddy da da da da...".