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From: Christopher Martin-Jenkins [mailto:CMJ@mcc.org.uk]
Sent: 07 May 2012 13:56
To: Greig, Tony
Subject: Re: MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture 2012 – 1st Draft

Tony,

Many thanks for getting back to us in such timely fashion; however there appears to have been a misunderstanding. The invitation we extended to you was for a 40-45 minute speech about the spirit of cricket that SPECIFICALLY WAS NOT dominated by your obsession with towels. Yet here I am presented with a first draft, barely five minutes in duration, which is almost a eulogy to absorbent fabric.

With the greatest respect, I would ask you to revisit what you have written, remove all references to towels and instead concentrate on the spirit of cricket itself. Perhaps you can think of expressing your thoughts on a subject of wider interest, one that would make a few headlines?

I await your reply,

CMJ

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From: Tony Greig [mailto:daddybear46@hotmail.com]
Sent: 07 May 2012 09:32
To: Christopher Martin-Jenkins
Subject: MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture 2012 – 1st Draft

Christopher,

Please find attached the first draft of my MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture. I’m sure it’s just what you’re looking for!

Tony

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Attachment follows:

Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Members of the Dry Cleaning Industry,

Thank you for inviting me to give the MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture. I consider it an honour not only for myself but for my family and for my personal assistants of the past 37 years, Oddjob and Nik-Nak.

I know many of you will be saying, hang on there fella, why are they asking old Tone to give a speech about the spirit of cricket after he turned his back on the traditions of the game and sold his soul to some dodgy businessman? Isn’t it the role of national cricket boards to do that?

Firstly, let me address that issue by stating clearly and categorically that I never allowed Kerry Packer to land his helicopter on my lawn, although his chauffeur did once run over and break my wife’s favourite garden gnome, Geoffrey, whilst attempting to reverse out of our driveway.

Secondly, the Packer revolution was a force for good in the game and should be viewed within the context of cricket during the late 1970’s. At that time conditions for the professional player were poor. Long hours had to be spent driving yourself to matches, the remuneration was meagre and after a hard day in the field all you had to look forward to was a quick shower in tepid water followed by a rub down with harsh hessian towels that grazed the skin and were decorated with unimaginative patterns. Dark, dark days for the towel connoisseur.

Packer changed all that. I remember at our first meeting he said to me, “Tony, I’m willing to put on the table, soft, cotton based bath towels, professionally washed before each game with not one but two full caps of conditioner. Also, a shit load of money.” As you can imagine, that was music to my ears.

Kerry was as good as his word too. And for the next few years the best players in the world created a new vision for cricket that saw the introduction of better wages, improved television coverage and the new microfiber towel made from tightly woven material that allows vastly improved drying speeds. We were a happy bunch, even the West Indian lads who soon overcame objections to their controversial pink micro towels which they claimed were ‘emasculating’ and ‘not big enough to cover your bits’.

The legacy from World Series Cricket is still felt today. Literally. As every time soft ultra-cotton fabric brushes the naked skin of a cricketer they should say, “Thanks, Kerry”, just as we did back in the 1970’s. Although obviously it’s best to say that under your breath.

But as time goes on, fashion continues to change and technology continues to innovate. Today players have access not only to a vast array of toweling options but also the new full body hot air blower system (FBB). Now, many people will point out that in the past I’ve been a bit of a stuck-in-the-mud traditionalist when it comes to post match cleansing regimen. But let me tell you, if a cricketer, of either sex, wants to rotate slowly whilst dripping wet in front of a hot air blower, I’m no longer going to stand in their way.

Which is why I’m so disappointed by the stance of the Indian cricket authorities towards FBB. With every other national cricket board backing the system the BCCI still maintain their opinion that it is ‘inaccurate’ and ‘a little bit pervy’.

As with everything else in cricket, it’s the BCCI’s view that holds sway. At a time when player’s monogrammed towels are to be found the world over, IPL dressing room linen is now dominated by franchise logos. And with the FBB system up and working even here at Lords, players in India are still unable to place their hands behind their head, relax, and feel the full benefit of its HotSpot technology.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is time for the BCCI to accept its responsibility as the leading cricket nation. It is time for them to accept full towel rights for all. Time for them to allow FBB into Indian dressing rooms so that players can be blown until fully satisfied.

I thank you.

(Wait for sustained applause)

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