One of the most iconic voices in the game, Australian commentator Bill Lawry has called time on his career calling the game after four decades of service.
After Channel Nine recently lost the Australian television rights to broadcast cricket for the first time since the late 1970s, Lawry announced he will not move to the new broadcasters (Seven Network and Foxtel) and instead retire from the game.
“I’ve seen the best cricketers of the last 40 years, I’ve been through the Packers years, I’ve commentated with guys like Ian Healy and Mark Taylor and all the new boys,” Lawry was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
“It’s just been a wonderful journey I never really expected.”
Lawry explained that he couldn’t leave Channel Nine after all the time he has spent with the network that has long been synonymous with cricket in Australia.
“I had a phone call or two (from Seven and Foxtel), which is fair enough,” he said. “I said no because Channel Nine has been my home and I’ve been very happy there. When you’ve had such an enjoyable trip, and at 81 years of age, I think it’s time to call quits. It’s almost a dream come true.”
Lawry, a former Australian captain himself who donned the Baggy Green for 67 Test matches, scoring more than 5000 runs at an average of 47, came to the fore as a commentator during Kerry Packer’s World Series of cricket in the late 70s. The Packer series is said to have revolutionised the game, especially on how it was packaged to the public.
“I think the success of World Series Cricket was purely due to the quality of the cricketers, the World XI, a great West Indian team and Ian Chappell mustering an Australian team and the good coverage,” Lawry was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo. “The highlight was being part of a team that Richie led. It was new territory for everybody, Richie was the key to it all and so calm and collected and then we had guys like Greigy and Ian Chappell coming in after the two years of playing and we’ve had all the visitors, the Ian Bothams and Michael Vaughan last year, Michael Holding and all the wonderful West Indian cricketers who’ve come on as commentators.”
“I’ve had the best seat in the house watching the best cricketers,” he added.
Lawry’s batting style was known to be anything but flashy, with his commentary style, a polar opposite. “It is difficult to relate Lawry the deadpan accumulator to Lawry the adolescent enthusiast, now that he is a TV commentator of such infectious animation,” wrote Australian journalist Gideon Haigh.
Lawry, who was known for his enthusiastic, animated calling of the game, joked he’d perhaps commentate on the Australian Open tennis now, and yell “he’s got him!”