January 30, 2012

'I just try to convey my enjoyment of cricket'

Now as 40 years ago, Bill Lawry can get excited at the drop of a hat - by a shot, a ball, a catch. His job, he says, is to make the man in the garden come into the house to check what happened
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A lot of commentary today is noise. Just gratuitous and grating shouting. Yet one of the most loved commentators of all time is a shouter. Like the rest today, Bill Lawry too is a peddler, but he sells enjoyment of the cricket. Talking to him, you understand why his loudness doesn't jar. This interview was after Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke had both scored double-centuries on the second day of the Adelaide Test between Australia and India, and Brad Haddin was trying to get some quick runs to set up a declaration. It wasn't the most gripping spell of cricket, but you couldn't take Lawry's eye off the cricket, even when he was answering questions. Once, during an answer, he went, "There he goes…" He restrained himself, and even though it was all happening out there, he was clean as a whistle until it was all over.

How did you first get into commentary?
I first got into commentary when we were playing state one-day games. There were Richie Benaud, myself and Bobby Simpson, working for Channel 10. Channel 0 [it was called] back then. We did one or two of those, on small grounds. And then, of course, along comes Kerry Packer in 1977-78, and the first commentary team was Richie Benaud, Fred Trueman, Keith Stackpole, and myself.

I was an estate manager for a manufacturing company and had a full-time job. This just came along. Something new. Under lights, coloured clothing. We had a great time.

Keith Stackpole and I had never done television over a long period before, and Frank Tyson joined the team as well. And we had guest commentators over the years come from every country.

Were there any nerves the first time?
Well, there were but it was quite a good feeling to have Richie Benaud there. Richie had been commentating in England since 1960-61, so we had his experience.

It was all new. Everybody was excited. We had cameras at both ends for the first time in the history of the game. We had cameras square of the wicket. We had all these wonderful new things. Exciting time. Very lucky to be there.

And of course we had very good players. Australia had the Chappell brothers and Lillee and Marsh, and all these types of guys. The World XI was Tony Greig, and West Indies with Clive Lloyd, and all their wonderful cricketers. It was just an exciting time. Changing of the guard as far as cricket was concerned. All of a sudden we had an outside promoter promoting the game rather than the cricket boards.

Did you have any reservations against putting your name behind this non-traditional cricket?
I didn't have any reservations, because as former players we were unhappy with the amount of money we were being paid. Once Kerry Packer came along, it became a professional sport. What we see today, 40 years on, what we take for granted, all started with World Series Cricket. He paid the players well, the crowds were big, we went full-time on television.

Were you asked to make it sound more exciting?
No. We had no instructions whatsoever.

Did you expect to make such a long career out of it?
No. It was not a career for me. Until I retired at 65 - I'm 74 now - I did this for fun. I got a pay obviously, but I did it for fun. Just an add-on to my working career. It's just been a wonderful enjoyment. I enjoy the money - because I never got any money when I played - but I have enjoyed more the thrill of watching great players over the last 40 years. The Vivian Richardses, the Lillees, the Chappell brothers, the Bothams. In recent times we have got the Pontings and the Shane Warnes...

"When I was on my first tour of England, I come in after the game, and Mr Jack Fingleton [then a journalist] called me aside and said, 'Bill it's great to be enthusiastic, but you shouldn't be appealing for lbws at deep midwicket'"

You were an intense batsman. As a commentator did you go back home and analyse how you did that day?
I never treated it like that. Our first producer was a guy called David Hill. And he just said, "Be yourself." That's all. I just come along to enjoy the cricket, and hopefully convey to the people at home that I am enjoying the cricket, and it's a great game, and enjoy the skill. We have been here and seen Clarke and Ponting score double-hundreds. I mean, how fortunate are we to be sitting right behind the wicket? There are people at work, and people at the beach - they come home and all of a sudden they find two double-hundreds. Richie and I for the last 30-odd years have seen all this happen. It's wonderful.

You said your first producer told you to be yourself. Our impression of you was of a stodgy opening batsman.
Well, that's right. But I scored the first one-day hundred in Australia. (Laughs) That's a record Ponting or Bradman hasn't got. (Laughs)

It was different, I suppose. We were playing as amateurs. We just went out to enjoy batting. I just enjoyed batting. I think today, obviously, you are getting a lot of money to perform well. We probably had a different attitude. We just played to win the game.

As a commentator were you this excitable always?
Well, I was always excitable when I played. It might not have shown in my batting, but I always appealed the loudest in the field. In fact when I was on my first tour of England, I was fielding at square leg or somewhere, and I come in after the game, and Mr Jack Fingleton [then a journalist] called me aside and said, "Bill it's great to be enthusiastic, but you shouldn't be appealing for lbws at deep midwicket."

How did the phrases come about? "It's all happening." "It's all over at the WACA." "Clean as a whistle."
They just come out. Just pick up the mic. Nothing is pre-planned. I don't sit down and do any homework, apart from studying who the players are.

I have been very lucky. I have seen some wonderful moments. Once [Shahid] Afridi hit two sixes off the first two balls down in Hobart. Those are great moments to be on air. Also, it helps to be on first, which I do a lot of the time. In Test matches you might get two wickets in the first two overs, and you only get three wickets on some other days. You have got to make sure when you get those wickets, that everybody at home - if he is outside in the garden - comes in to see what is going on. You want him to say, "What was that noise?" and go in and see a wicket has fallen.

How much of your commentary is science? How much of it is instinct?
Mine's all instinct. I just try and call it each ball as I see it. I love to get a wicket, I love to get a great catch or a run-out. I just try and be involved without going over the top.

I don't try and analyse it too much. I just try and bring in my experiences as a player. I realise that probably 70% of the people at home are not cricket experts. The people that come here probably understand the game 80%. The people at home don't understand that much. I try and explain it to them. When we first started, David Hill actually had a chart up on the wall with field positions, because when we were saying to somebody who has migrated to Australia, "He has got a man at leg gully", what does leg gully mean to a 14-year-old girl or a young boy who is not brought up in a cricketing family? What is silly point? A traffic stop or something?

A bowler starts to think where he is going to pitch the ball before he starts running in. When you are off air, what do you do?
I watch every ball when I am at the cricket.

Even when you are not on air? I always watch. I don't bring a computer to the ground. I don't do any other work at all. I just watch the game. That was because David Hill earlier on said that if you are on next, I don't want you to repeat what the guy before said. Most times I sit in there, I watch what's going on, so when I am on, I have got my thoughts, not Richie Benaud's or Tony Greig's. And I love watching the cricket, and I have always loved watching it, and I think you can learn by watching.

Richie Benaud is a man of few words. He is an analyst. He analyses the game. Tony Greig talks about Africa. He cares about Africa. All that sort of stuff. I bring out my feelings about the game. Tony and Ian [Chappell], they have been there since the World Series ended. We have been there 30 years as well. Luckily there have been very few changes. Not only are we working together, we are great mates. You don't have a 30-year career as a cricketer. I said to my wife - when I met her, I was 19 years old and I was playing for Victoria - this will last only five or six years, this cricket.

I have been one of the lucky generation to have gone on from being an amateur to a professional on television but not as a career, as a hobby and a delight.

You were once quoted saying you enjoyed this more than your cricket. How can that be?
That's probably not quite right. Obviously you enjoy the game more as a player. I suppose it was the times. When I first played for Australia I was a tradesman of tools. I'd work till five o'clock, I'd rush to practice, get there at 6 o'clock, and bat for 20 minutes in the dark. I'd love to have been a professional because you can train your skill all day. I often felt for our fast bowlers. They'd work a full day's work and get to practice at, say, 6pm and bowl for two overs and go home and go to work the next day. When we played four-day Shield games, we'd arrive on Thursday night and play on Friday and go to work the day it was over.

Could that have played a role in what kind of batsman you were?
I wasn't a slow scorer, really. I played one or two slow innings, but I think Bobby Simpson and I had a pretty good partnership, and I reckon our strike rate would be the same over our career. Not one or two games, where I might have batted all day for a 90 or something. That was something you do intentionally. You see a situation and say to yourself, "I am going to be here at stumps." That's part of your job. It's all very well to be flamboyant, but if you get beat, that's not a lot of fun.

Do you struggle to stay in your chair?
I jump up and down occasionally.

What do you enjoy the most? A six or a wicket or a run-out? Or a cartwheeling stump?
All types. I guess, reflecting back I would say what really excited me the most was when Hayden and Gilchrist were opening in the 50-over games. Up till then the plan seemed to be, if the openers got through the first 15 overs and you were none for 70, you had a real good start. All of a sudden Hayden and Gilchrist come out and they were 60 after eight overs. What you are trying to get across to people is, it's not easy. It's very skilful. Very few players who can do it. Walk out against the new ball, and go bang bang.

If you ask me the three most exciting cricketers I've seen, one of them I played one Test with was Dennis Lillee. I think I have to say Warne and Gilchrist in my memory were most exciting. Warne, because he is the best legspinner of all time, but Gilchrist is the only wicketkeeper in the history of the game to come in at No. 7 and change the game in an hour. You could be 6 for nothing, and he could come out and change it with a quick hundred. So they remain in my mind.

Some of the great catches... I remember Allan Border catching [Mike] Gatting at the MCG at first slip in a one-dayer. Still in my mind, diving to his left. Glenn McGrath's catch here. Things like that stick in your mind. Of course you remember the dropped catches. Earlier people wouldn't know if a catch was dropped. Now with TV the whole world sees it.

Who is your favourite commentator to work with?
I suppose I'd have to say Richie. Richie was my first Test captain, and he was a very good cricket captain, but he has been an exceptional captain of the Channel 9 team. He has set the standard. He gave us credibility, and his knowledge of the game was fantastic. Blokes like myself were allowed to be a bit vocal because he was the steady influence on the other side of the mic. You could always look up and see Richie was there and feel safe.

Has he ever had to restrain you? "Steady on Bill"
Never. Never ever said that. No. Richie is not like that. If you are going to hang yourself, Richie will let you hang yourself.

"I watch every ball. I don't bring a computer to the ground. I don't do any other work. I just watch the game. That was because I was told: if you are on next, I don't want you to repeat what the guy before said"

He has been sensational, and a good friend of mine since 1975, but he has been more than that. He has been a sort of rock to lean on. When you go to the ground it is great to see Richie there. He was the host commentator there until Mark Nicholas came along.

Tony Greig and myself are very good friends. Ian Chappell and I played together, and I can honestly say none of us have said a cuss word in 30 years. I don't think there has ever been an argument. That's full credit to the producers and the directors.

The guys who do the best job, who we don't mention, are the cameramen. They stand out in the heat for six hours and rarely miss anything.

Have you ever met Billy Birmingham?
No. Billy Birmingham is very interesting because when he made those tapes, I was cricket manager of Victoria, and I'd go out to schools, and obviously a six-year-old kid had no idea who I was because I wasn't playing then. They'd say, "Are you Billy Birmingham?" I'd say, "I wish I was."

Who are you favourite commentators?
Unfair to pick out any. I'd have to rate Richie as No. 1. I used to enjoy Keith Stackpole, an old team-mate. I enjoy being with Tony Greig because we are always challenging each other. That's good. You have got to have your own point of view. Sometimes it gets a bit argumentative. That's fine, as long as it is not spiteful. And I obviously liked Michael Holding because his voice was so soft. Couldn't understand what he was saying half the time, but I loved his voice. Freddie Trueman in the early days was good. Freddie would be smoking his pipe, which is unheard of today. Tony Cozier from the West Indies. We have had some wonderful overseas commentators. They have all been wonderful, and they have all been different. That's the reason why I enjoy it.

Cricket has changed completely since when you started. Do you ever get cynical?
I never get cynical because I think back and think I have been very lucky. The fact that I played and toured England for seven months and played every county and did it for no money gave me more of an appreciation of the game. The difference was, when I played, you never said you had an injury, because if you dropped off, you never got back. Players get injured today, they put them on leave for months, and back they come.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • auspan on February 1, 2012, 9:38 GMT

    Out of the greatest respect to Bill Lawry and his contribution to Australian cricket, I must say he no longer has much to offer as a commentator. Despite his passion and enthusiasm he adds little insight to the game and often states the bleeding obvious or makes errors in his call. Time for him and Tony Greig to go. Of the current commentators only Benaud and Chappell have anything to offer.

  • Cricket_theBestGame on February 1, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    he is one of the best and most farest commentator around. commentators like shastri, gavasker have given commentating a bad name :(

  • Emancipator007 on February 1, 2012, 2:08 GMT

    Lawry came to India for 2 tours in the '60s. While the vibrancy and soul of India would doubtless have enraptured him like many Anglo-Aussies,India was horribly socialistic during that era and touring cricketers did not have much leisure/recreation opportunities(very important in my opinion)after playing hours. I am very sure he has not come for a SINGLE commentary stint to India since his playing days. Since the '90s and liberalization in India,avenues abound for entertainment and socializing after work hours.Chappelli, S.Waugh, Deano who have LOVED India all thru their careers keep coming back to India for comm stints and other activities.Don't know if Bill has any health ailments (being my dad's age), but efforts should be made to get him to make 1 pilgrimage to India(and also SL, Pakistan would have been great too but won't for obvious reasons now)during '13 OZ tour and get a feel of Oriental flavor and cricketana again. He WOULD be FETED.Roebuck sadly was also looking to do so.

  • alfredmynn on January 31, 2012, 23:44 GMT

    The commentator with the finest instinct for cricket I have ever seen was the great Jim Laker. Whenever anything exciting happened, he used to instantly call it, and with amazing accuracy.

  • cric_freak88 on January 31, 2012, 22:33 GMT

    ah man, i love bill lawry , for me he;s the best commentator , adds that excitement to cricket , even if aus r at the receiving end , hed b praisin the opposition team and player !

  • Wolfpac on January 31, 2012, 21:35 GMT

    I guess, reflecting back I would say what really excited me the most was when Hayden and Gilchrist were opening in the 50-over games. Up till then the plan seemed to be, if the openers got through the first 15 overs and you were none for 70,

    Well wait a second Bill, I respect you bbut were you sleeping during the 96 world cup, it was kalu and sanath who popularized who brought pinch hitting to the game. I know Australians try to make everything their own. But c,mon have a limit, next what Warne is better than Murali, Ponting is better than Sachin pls Bill chk history first

  • shamlaatu on January 31, 2012, 19:40 GMT

    The way he breathes in the excitement into the play, his absolutely SUPER unbiased commentary and the way he intelligently conversates with the fellow commentators? There is absolutely NO OTHER cricket commentator that comes even close to Bill Lawry. He is an absolutely lovable character. Sad that he doesn't work outside Australia yet it's a pleasure to have lived in this great era of Bill Lawry's live cricket commentary.

  • alimeer on January 31, 2012, 17:16 GMT

    ASSALAM WA ALYKUM MUSLIM BROTHERE

    it is really a good interview

  • Peterincanada on January 31, 2012, 16:53 GMT

    @Fraser Simm That 1961 series was my intro. to test cricket and Bill Lawry became my first cricket hero. I personally felt he was unfairly criticised as a batsman. In those days the primary job of an opener was to take the shine off the ball for the stroke makers and NOBODY did that job better than Bill. He also fought, when captain, on behalf of his players for better working conditions, which ultimately caused him to be prematurely dropped from the side. There is no doubt in my mind that spiteful decision cost Aus the 1972 ashes. As a commentator he is exciting, entertaining and not afraid to say when something is bad cricket. Choo_for_twenty_choo is absolutely right. Those who criticise him as a commentator really do need to get a life.

  • Emancipator007 on January 31, 2012, 11:24 GMT

    LOL: just remembered that Lawry and Mike Procter were doing the comms during the exciting closing stages of that classic semi-final 1999 World Cup match b/w OZ & SA . Both utterly parochial comms forgot about being neutral and actually jousted about something during those tense final overs, was hilarious (will have to check for footage again on YTube to relive that). Though once blazing-hot Klusener started belting boundaries, Lawry was back at his best: FOUR, FOUR MORE! And when the match was tied, Lawry immediately realized that OZ was thru to the finals (must have leapt while screaming) and just about restrained himself from gloating at Procter, who was meowing by then and stupefied at the result and the farcical run out of Donald.

  • auspan on February 1, 2012, 9:38 GMT

    Out of the greatest respect to Bill Lawry and his contribution to Australian cricket, I must say he no longer has much to offer as a commentator. Despite his passion and enthusiasm he adds little insight to the game and often states the bleeding obvious or makes errors in his call. Time for him and Tony Greig to go. Of the current commentators only Benaud and Chappell have anything to offer.

  • Cricket_theBestGame on February 1, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    he is one of the best and most farest commentator around. commentators like shastri, gavasker have given commentating a bad name :(

  • Emancipator007 on February 1, 2012, 2:08 GMT

    Lawry came to India for 2 tours in the '60s. While the vibrancy and soul of India would doubtless have enraptured him like many Anglo-Aussies,India was horribly socialistic during that era and touring cricketers did not have much leisure/recreation opportunities(very important in my opinion)after playing hours. I am very sure he has not come for a SINGLE commentary stint to India since his playing days. Since the '90s and liberalization in India,avenues abound for entertainment and socializing after work hours.Chappelli, S.Waugh, Deano who have LOVED India all thru their careers keep coming back to India for comm stints and other activities.Don't know if Bill has any health ailments (being my dad's age), but efforts should be made to get him to make 1 pilgrimage to India(and also SL, Pakistan would have been great too but won't for obvious reasons now)during '13 OZ tour and get a feel of Oriental flavor and cricketana again. He WOULD be FETED.Roebuck sadly was also looking to do so.

  • alfredmynn on January 31, 2012, 23:44 GMT

    The commentator with the finest instinct for cricket I have ever seen was the great Jim Laker. Whenever anything exciting happened, he used to instantly call it, and with amazing accuracy.

  • cric_freak88 on January 31, 2012, 22:33 GMT

    ah man, i love bill lawry , for me he;s the best commentator , adds that excitement to cricket , even if aus r at the receiving end , hed b praisin the opposition team and player !

  • Wolfpac on January 31, 2012, 21:35 GMT

    I guess, reflecting back I would say what really excited me the most was when Hayden and Gilchrist were opening in the 50-over games. Up till then the plan seemed to be, if the openers got through the first 15 overs and you were none for 70,

    Well wait a second Bill, I respect you bbut were you sleeping during the 96 world cup, it was kalu and sanath who popularized who brought pinch hitting to the game. I know Australians try to make everything their own. But c,mon have a limit, next what Warne is better than Murali, Ponting is better than Sachin pls Bill chk history first

  • shamlaatu on January 31, 2012, 19:40 GMT

    The way he breathes in the excitement into the play, his absolutely SUPER unbiased commentary and the way he intelligently conversates with the fellow commentators? There is absolutely NO OTHER cricket commentator that comes even close to Bill Lawry. He is an absolutely lovable character. Sad that he doesn't work outside Australia yet it's a pleasure to have lived in this great era of Bill Lawry's live cricket commentary.

  • alimeer on January 31, 2012, 17:16 GMT

    ASSALAM WA ALYKUM MUSLIM BROTHERE

    it is really a good interview

  • Peterincanada on January 31, 2012, 16:53 GMT

    @Fraser Simm That 1961 series was my intro. to test cricket and Bill Lawry became my first cricket hero. I personally felt he was unfairly criticised as a batsman. In those days the primary job of an opener was to take the shine off the ball for the stroke makers and NOBODY did that job better than Bill. He also fought, when captain, on behalf of his players for better working conditions, which ultimately caused him to be prematurely dropped from the side. There is no doubt in my mind that spiteful decision cost Aus the 1972 ashes. As a commentator he is exciting, entertaining and not afraid to say when something is bad cricket. Choo_for_twenty_choo is absolutely right. Those who criticise him as a commentator really do need to get a life.

  • Emancipator007 on January 31, 2012, 11:24 GMT

    LOL: just remembered that Lawry and Mike Procter were doing the comms during the exciting closing stages of that classic semi-final 1999 World Cup match b/w OZ & SA . Both utterly parochial comms forgot about being neutral and actually jousted about something during those tense final overs, was hilarious (will have to check for footage again on YTube to relive that). Though once blazing-hot Klusener started belting boundaries, Lawry was back at his best: FOUR, FOUR MORE! And when the match was tied, Lawry immediately realized that OZ was thru to the finals (must have leapt while screaming) and just about restrained himself from gloating at Procter, who was meowing by then and stupefied at the result and the farcical run out of Donald.

  • Emancipator007 on January 31, 2012, 11:22 GMT

    @DustBowl:U SAID it!Benaud hardly ever ANALYSES technically(when u don't invite foreign commentators often,you can't always leave technical analysis to Chappelli, Healy, despite his patriotism),his gentle nature had made him a LEGEND more than his craft at commentary;always considered him a tad over-rated. Even though I find Barry Richards horribly smug, he is a superb analyzer of game situations and batting technique(the best along with Gavaskar and Boycott, maybe says a lot about them being openers in the toughest era in world cricket) and could be invited more often. @Choo_Twenty: I have a wonderful life, TY. Look at your own post about Lawry before talking about other commentators being jingoistic. There is always a thin line between jingoism and utter parochialism. BTW, did I ever say Lawry does not bring passion? Still used to stay awake till 5 AM all thru '90s and 2000s just to hear Chappelli at the toss and Lawry's early game screeches despite knowing his parochial nature.

  • JackJak on January 31, 2012, 10:30 GMT

    Cricbuff hit the nail on the head that Bill Lawry is a guy who stands for what commentary should be and not the kind of torture we are forced to bear with hearing all biased comments from Bak Shastri and Dhahdi Ganguly and all those characters..Every tom dick and hari is becoming a commentator now. sad state of affairs

  • Potatis on January 31, 2012, 10:07 GMT

    I love Bill Lawry, great man, great commentator. I always get a laugh from listening to Bill. He can take a joke too when people make fun of his pigeons or his nose. Really great bloke. @Fraser Simm, interesting story! :)

  • coeurlion on January 31, 2012, 7:10 GMT

    I love Bill Lawry's commentary. No matter what the stage of the game... his love of cricket makes it exciting and infectious. As a Victorian, he uses some Aussie rules football references like "It's a Grand Final roar". But it's not a criticism, but an idiosyncrasy I love, and that makes his commentary unique. Going from that, my best Bill Lawry moment... Paul Collingwood takes a catch at Adelaide, 2nd Test 06/07 Ashes, "Collingwood! Good old Collingwood forever!"... and I don't even support Collingwood in the AFL! Keep up the good work Bill!

  • aceruser on January 31, 2012, 5:42 GMT

    I don't think anyone across the world who follows cricket on TV and understand cricket, don't know Bill Lawry. His Signature Comments " Down He Goes", "That's a ripper of a delivery", Wo ho ho ho its gone out of the park", "Knocked him over".

    Absolute peach when it comes to analyse field placings..

    Legendary Commentator!

  • Kiaa on January 31, 2012, 3:08 GMT

    I don't care who says what, I love Bill Lawry.He is my the most favourite commentator.He is impartial, knowledgeble and gets very excited when a wicket or a catch is taken or when a batsmen scores a 4 or a 6. He is very entertaining.Good luck Bill.

  • nzcricket174 on January 31, 2012, 2:46 GMT

    He's my favourite commentator! I wish he, Richie and David Lloyd would make a team and just commentate all day long.

  • TontonZolaMoukoko on January 31, 2012, 2:07 GMT

    I love listening to Bill Lawry, him and Tony Greig seem to get the best out of each other, they're like an old married couple really! Although Charindra - it was Mark Greatbatch in '92 who invented the the 15 over dash, on the world cup stage anyway. Jayasuriya just took the model and improved it a tournament later.

  • Emancipator007 on January 31, 2012, 0:47 GMT

    @Charindra,@ johnathonjosephs: Lawry obviously has forgotten(not surprising why as I have stated in my comments)about Kalu and Jaya's pioneering pyrotechnics long before Gilly/Haydos.And only Kalu (still reminisce about that bloke's raw, clean hitting style)really CLICKED more during that '96 tri-series Down Under(just before SL's famous World Cup triumph against OZ). However, for the record, in case you folks are young, Srikanth (never liked him much but I will always give due credit) was the ABSOLUTE ORIGINAL pioneer of 15 overs hitting and used to hit Marshall,Garner, Roberts, Imran with disdain (Sri's 38 in '83 Final against WI turned out to be decisive ) and even Lawry was on air during the 1985 World Championship which India won and '86 Tri-series when Srikanth ran amok, albeit with low-Afridi type scores (Sri of course was the lone range hitter unlike Kalu/Jaya 2some as he had the stodgy Gavaskar or Shastri as his partners). Following Sri was Greatbatch in the '92 World Cup.

  • adam_melb on January 31, 2012, 0:31 GMT

    One of the best commentators, I love "Its all happening at the MCG", bowled clean as a whistle. Very enthusiastic man, and he is right about getting people coming running inside to look at the tv when he yells after a wicket has fallen.

  • Emancipator007 on January 31, 2012, 0:26 GMT

    LOL: just remembered that Lawry and Mike Procter were doing the comms during the exciting closing stages of that classic semi-final 1999 World Cup match b/w OZ &SA . Both utterly parochial comms forgot about being neutral and actually jousted about something during those tense final overs, was hilarious (will have to check for footage again on YTube to relive that). Though once blazing-hot Klusener started belting boundaries, Lawry was back at his best: FOUR, FOUR MORE! And when the match was tied, Lawry immediately realized that OZ was thru to the finals (must have leapt while screaming) and just about restrained himself from gloating at Procter, who was meowing by then and stupefied at the result and the farcical run out of Donald.

  • redneck on January 31, 2012, 0:23 GMT

    @Emancipator007 quit playing the race victum card. australia has exteam PC (pollitical correctness) mobs that take anyone in the media to task for this and chanel 9 isnt a problem. you want to see asian comentators on chanel 9 then you better take it up with espn for sending their own commentry team to aus instead of picking up channel 9's feed. we had ian smith here for the NZ series and i dare say sanjay or harsha would have been asked by 9 if they werent already calling the cricket on espn star for indian audiences!

  • Emancipator007 on January 31, 2012, 0:15 GMT

    @DustBowl:U SAID it!Benaud hardly ever ANALYSES technically(when u don't invite foreign commentators often,you can't always leave technical analysis to Chappelli, Healy, despite his patriotism),his gentle nature had made him a LEGEND more than his craft at commentary; always considered him a tad over-rated. Even though I find Barry Richards horribly smug, he is a superb analyzer of game situations and batting technique (the best along with Gavaskar and Boycott, maybe says a lot about them being openers in the toughest era in world cricket) and could be invited more often. @Choo_Twenty: I have a wonderful life, TY. Look at your own post about Lawry before talking about other commentators being jingoistic.There's always a thin line between jingoism and utter parochialism. BTW, did I ever say Lawry does not bring passion? Still used to stay awake till 5 AM all thru '90s and 2000s just to hear Chappelli at the toss and Lawry's early game screeches despite knowing his "parochial"comms

  • Meety on January 30, 2012, 23:36 GMT

    @ Emancipator007 - back to usual dribble. Boring. Don't watch the commentry if it pains you that much. @Ayazkhalidcric - actually I think he'd say "It's going, going it's goooone!"

  • Threedog on January 30, 2012, 22:21 GMT

    I 'd prefer Bill over the likes of the likes of Ian Chappell any day but I'd much rather listen to ABC radio with the TV volume down. No ads and much more interesting and objective commentary.

  • DustBowl on January 30, 2012, 20:48 GMT

    Bill, plus Tubby, Greggy, Chappell and ex mega-mouth Healy are excellent.

    Bill is so full of enthusiasm for players of both sides, and has a keen eye for field placings - I always look forward to the home Oz Tests. Benaud? For years on the BBC he just read out the bowling figures and left the analysis to Boycott. Little analysis on Warne- despite him being the ideal person to do so. "A lot of commentary today is noise." That must be Slater?

  • on January 30, 2012, 20:47 GMT

    The name "Bill Lawry" was the first cricketing name I heard. It was a radio broadcast from Lord's in 1961, when Lawry's first test century was the vital factor in an Australian victory. Living in Edinburgh, I saw none of the test matches that year, but the next time I heard the radio, was in the fourth test (at Manchester) when another Lawry century was crucial in Australia's second - and clinching victory - to win the series 2-1. At the end of their tour, the 1961 Australians visited Edinburgh and for three days I watched transfixed and hooked for ever! Two years on, I listened to the live transmisison (through the night) on a small transistor radio of the 1962/63 series from Australia...My memories and favourites were fixed in those days of my youth... (Fraser Simm - Chairman, Cricket Society of Scotland)

  • on January 30, 2012, 19:20 GMT

    I've always loved Bill Lawry's commentaries. Two of my favourites are the night Allan Lamb hit 18 runs in the last over of a Sydney ODI to win a match England had always been losing - Bill Lawry got tongue tied between the words ridiculous and miraculous and sounded as if he was foaming at the mouth as he described it; and another ODI when Glenn McGrath came in as last man with about 90 runs needed to win and Bill said "What a great opportunity for McGrath". That's Bill Lawry all over, the eternal Australian optimist and always fun to listen to.

  • Umms on January 30, 2012, 19:19 GMT

    In Pakistan, Bill is highly acclaimed because he brings all the excitment to the game. 'Go ball go" was my favourite when Razzaq hit Mcgrath five fours in one over.

  • jr1972 on January 30, 2012, 19:19 GMT

    Parochial with a capital P. I'd say that he couldn't see past the end of his nose, but in his case that may well be a compliment.

  • Charindra on January 30, 2012, 16:40 GMT

    I love everything about him, apart from the fact that he's too patriotic to be a commentator. And he also needs to remember that the dash in the first 15 overs was introduced by Jayasuriya and Kaluwithrana in '95, and NOT Hayden and Gilchrist . He should ask his old friend Tony Greig. He knows all about it! But yes, a very enjoyable commentator.

  • crikbuff on January 30, 2012, 15:58 GMT

    Bill Lawry is just as legendary as Richie Benaud and Tony Greig! We, in India, have missed the fantastic Channel 9 commentary, and were instead subjected to torture at the vocal chords of Bak-Bak Shastri, Dada Ganguly, Akram and Jason dela pain! Listening to their stupid comments was like rubbing salt into the wounds! We will have to suffer these fools again thru the ODIs.... Dear EspnStar - Have pity on the Indian cricket fan! Please broadcast Channel 9 commentary..

  • on January 30, 2012, 15:30 GMT

    It's a pleasure listening to him. Still remember "he's knocked him over" when Shoaib bowled Ponting and once he got so excited by Afridi's six off Lehmann that he shouted, before the ball had actually crossed the ropes, "that's the biggest six you'll ever see" and once Inzamam had edged a delivery to the slips he shouted "Gone" and said "Yes" after the catch was taken.

  • RohanMarkJay on January 30, 2012, 14:44 GMT

    I love Bill Lawry. A true cricket eccentric. You can feel his passion and love for the game of Cricket and cricketers, for his beloved City, Melbourne and to the MCG. Every time he commentates, he never fails to crack me up lol! Its all happening! Got him YES! Oh you got to love the MCG and the Victorian crowd! LOL! We need more commentate rs like him, other cricket commentaters these days are quite boring compared to him! I understand he is also passionate about birds and birdwatching in particular pigeons LOL!

  • gimme-a-greentop on January 30, 2012, 14:05 GMT

    My first experience of Australian cricket commentary was listening to 12th man albums at my friend's house when we were kids. Since then I've had many opportunities to listen to the real thing and Richie and Bill are still the best two I've heard on TV, in Bill's case becasue he is hilariously funny and excitable and Richie because he is totally impartial and incredibly knowledgeable. Bumble teamed with the dry, sardonic Mike Atherton are equally entertaining but you can't argue with Bill and Richie bless 'em.

  • JimDavis on January 30, 2012, 13:44 GMT

    We love Bill 'cause he's a Victorian! We love Bill 'cause he's a Victorian! We love Bill 'cause he's a Victorian!

  • gujratwalla on January 30, 2012, 13:12 GMT

    Well! Bill was a very dour but gutsy batsman,i saw him in action in the Ashes of 1968, but i never thought he was such a open minded and realistic person and very jovial also!Nice to read his point of view!An interview with Bill about the 1970-71 Ashes series would be much appreicated!Nice going Bill!

  • RandyOZ on January 30, 2012, 13:10 GMT

    The greatest commentator ever, the nose Bill Lawry!!

  • on January 30, 2012, 12:57 GMT

    One of my all time faves.He has had his critics but that's due to his uniqueness - no bad thing. Such a great character with such a passion for the game.

  • spongebat_squarestumps on January 30, 2012, 12:21 GMT

    @Emancipator007 - get a life! Bill brings an energy and passion to commentating that is unmatched by commentators I've seen on foreign stations - international or IPL - whose commentators border on pure jingoism. Bill is no less a supporter of Aussie cricket than he is of Victorian state cricket - and Aussies hardly think less of him for that. As a past captain, opening batsman and fielder at the highest level, Bill communicates insights and understanding over what is happening on the field through what he says and how he says it. His passionate about his favourite side and favourite players reflects his passion for *cricket* the game - rather than a one-eyed cheerleader of a named player or a cricket brand.

  • on January 30, 2012, 12:04 GMT

    Hats off to one of the best commentators..It has been a pleasure listening to him all d while..

  • David_Boon on January 30, 2012, 11:50 GMT

    A true legend of the game, and one of the greatest commentators of all time, across any sport. If I could meet just one person, it would certainly be him! My hero!! And he's a Victorian!!

  • Gizza on January 30, 2012, 11:49 GMT

    Bill Lawry does get overly excited but that's part of his commentating personality. That makes his commentary so interesting. So yes it may be "biased" towards Australia but when he's shouting it becomes so interesting. Probably a better way of saying it - his voice sounds so much better when Australia takes a wicket or scores the winning runs. You can hear his love for the game of cricket. Maybe if you're supporting the other team it sounds bad, but if you're Aussie or a neutral for that game, you can't help but feel happy and glowing.

  • S.Alis on January 30, 2012, 11:45 GMT

    I remember listening to his commentary when i was a young kid and didn't understand english at all but loved his enthusiasm. It always felt great to just listen him when someone take wicket or hit a six or four. He's best commentator without a doubt and a great bloke who loves watching cricket.

  • jkaussie on January 30, 2012, 10:32 GMT

    I worked at Cricket Victoria when Bill was there, and at one stage our telephone hold message was Bill exclaiming "Got him, got him on hold!" Still crakcs me up thinking about it!! LOL!! Really enjoying these articles, keep them going.

  • on January 30, 2012, 9:46 GMT

    BEST EVER, PERFECT VOICE AND ACCENT FOR A COMMENTATOR-NOBODY MORE EXCITING !

  • on January 30, 2012, 9:41 GMT

    Marvelloush article, that. That really is shuper shtuff.

  • on January 30, 2012, 9:21 GMT

    It is an interesting perspective. I thought he and Ian Smith were so parochial that I really cant handle them. But this view of conveying enjoyment has been very different . It made me think. I missed Bill Lawy this season as the Indian commentators were pathetic, maybe only marginally better than the sad team.He does get carried away but he certainly conveys his love for the game. Ramanujam Sridhar

  • on January 30, 2012, 8:46 GMT

    bill lawry is my fav australian commentator and my all time fav ODI commentator as well

  • dunger.bob on January 30, 2012, 8:29 GMT

    Outstanding !! ... As I was reading that, my brain was thinking with a Bill Lawry accent. ... I love old Bill, he's just a stand-up bloke who loves the game to bits. .. would probably still turn up for work even if they stopped paying him.... may take security to keep him away if they try to retire him :) .. There's nothing very fancy about Bill. He's no brainiac and he's no diplomat either. He really does call it as he sees it and that's why I'll miss him .. come the day.

  • alikhan224 on January 30, 2012, 8:10 GMT

    for sure THE BEST COMMENTATOR of all times...according to me atleast.

  • on January 30, 2012, 8:08 GMT

    Bill Lawry, the best commentator ever on earth... we all really really love u and admire u sir... loads of Love and respect from Pakistan. :)

  • Noman_Yousuf_Dandore on January 30, 2012, 8:07 GMT

    Salute to Bill Lawry! What a fantastic commentator and what a fantastic bloke. I wish to go Australia and strike a friendship with him. He has made cricket so much more exciting for us; I wish we had more like him to spare us from the garbage that others dish out. My dream commentary partnership would be 'David Bumble Llyod' and Bill Lawry bringing you the play all the day long. And I hate the fact that star cricket forces us to listen to the garbage and doesn't let us listen to Channel 9 commentary!

  • FatBoysCanBat on January 30, 2012, 7:30 GMT

    A very good interview of a good Aussie bloke, but I think his time is up as a commentator. How many times in one stint of commentary does he get players names wrong - too many - and he is nearly as bad as Ian Healy with the amount of biased comments he makes. I used to enjoy the 'BANGS!' 'CRASHES!' and 'GOT EM! YES HE HAS!' when he didn't spout them out every time a boundary was hit or a wicket was taken. Luckily Tony Grieg is usually on at the same time as him to bring some perspective back to proceedings.

  • Ayazkhalidcric on January 30, 2012, 7:21 GMT

    Bill smiply the best commentator in all time. We love when you have mic in your hands. Its goin its goin its Six. and I do remember the word from bill dont forget blower is Mcgrath when Afridi n razzaq hammered Great Mcgrath . luv from all cricket fans to you Bill Keep it up.

  • unregisteredalien on January 30, 2012, 7:06 GMT

    Great interview and doesn't Bill seem a lovely chap!

  • Kunal-Talgeri on January 30, 2012, 6:38 GMT

    @Sidharth Monga & Nagraj Gollapudi: Thanks so much for your interviews-based articles of Lawry and Davidson. Faaaaaaaantastic perspectives of the amateur and professional eras. You guys made the Indians' trip Down Under worth the time for us, fans. Thanks a ton.... you guys did a great job as sports writers.

  • johnathonjosephs on January 30, 2012, 6:21 GMT

    Wow, he credits Gilchrist and Hayden for starting the "explosive opening" trend in ODIs. Sanath and Kaluwitharana should be credited with that.

  • crickstats on January 30, 2012, 6:08 GMT

    This commentary should have been released with Audio,

  • Emancipator007 on January 30, 2012, 5:20 GMT

    Among the Channel 9 commentators, only Chappelli is absolutely unbiased and superbly analytical unlike Lawry, Benaud is OK but can also get patronizing. Greig baits Asian players even if he might love Sri Lankan players. Of the current lot, Slater is boorish and racist (I was about to contact ICC about his sniggers about W Hinds's heritage and getting Kolpak status in a commentary stint with Nicholas and also his diatribe against Dravid during the 2008 series), Healy patriotic. Only Taylor is trying to mold himself like Chappelli and shows no overt bias at all. By the way, why is Channel 9 afraid of inviting strong Asian personalities like Gavaskar (who was a regular earlier) and Ganguly in the box? Always heard rumors that Gavaskar was too straight talking for their liking. Fans need to understand that Gavaskar just adopts the nationalistic approach on ESPN STAR to countervail the biasedness of Sky and 9. Otherwise he is remarkably neutral on BBC and other forums.

  • Emancipator007 on January 30, 2012, 5:16 GMT

    Yeah, yeah, like many youngsters I have grown up craving to listen to Lawry's excitable screeches and yelps and the other 9 Comms. But have realized he is ABSOLUTELY partisan and can't see beyond Aussie players (confirmed also in the interview by saying 3 most exciting players he has seen being OZ, shocking given the amount of non-OZ talent paraded in OZ in the '80s). So he did not find a Lara, Richards, Marshall, Ambrose, Patterson (whose EXTREME pace scared the living daylights out of OZ batsmen according to Deano), Donald, Pietersen, Akthar, Bond EXCITING? Even Richardson weaved his Calypso magical batting in OZ. Bill was horribly patronizing towards Asian players when they performed superbly (almost like he could not believe it) and more so absolute giants such as Akram, Kapil,(who has done very well in OZ), Aravinda. He was shocked when Razzaq kept belting McGrath ruthlessly and consistently in a tri-series. Also when Jayasuriya hit 100s and won back to back matches vs OZ and Eng.

  • on January 30, 2012, 4:31 GMT

    One of the slowest and most boring batsman ever to watch.

  • Sinhabahu on January 30, 2012, 4:22 GMT

    Great interview, the man's true passion for the sport comes out. A wonderful read.

  • it_is_all_happening_out_there on January 30, 2012, 4:17 GMT

    An all time great, a real legend, Bill Lawry. Modern cricket owes a lot to the ever-entertaining shouts of B Lawry.

  • Meety on January 30, 2012, 4:11 GMT

    Good onya Bill! The 12th man tapes - priceless!!!!

  • redneck on January 30, 2012, 3:57 GMT

    love how you asked about the 12th man! everyone knows what richie thinks of him but he definatly made bill and tony's respective stars shine brighter. it will be a sad day when richie, bill, tony and ian no longer cover the cricket, their voices have been the sound of summer for so long its hard to imagine watching the cricket in australia without them! my favorite bill lawry call was when beven hit a four to win the ODI in sydney against the windies, bet bill had no voice after that!!!

  • on January 30, 2012, 3:46 GMT

    I think he can be very biased for australia at times for obvious reasons but there is no denial about the intensity and perspective he bought to the commentry box. His attacking playing style (which I have seen in highlights and also read) got reflected in his analysis of the game and players..

    One of the very best and most original commentrators who made it all worth getting up at 5.30 am for watching the tough down under tours!

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  • on January 30, 2012, 3:46 GMT

    I think he can be very biased for australia at times for obvious reasons but there is no denial about the intensity and perspective he bought to the commentry box. His attacking playing style (which I have seen in highlights and also read) got reflected in his analysis of the game and players..

    One of the very best and most original commentrators who made it all worth getting up at 5.30 am for watching the tough down under tours!

  • redneck on January 30, 2012, 3:57 GMT

    love how you asked about the 12th man! everyone knows what richie thinks of him but he definatly made bill and tony's respective stars shine brighter. it will be a sad day when richie, bill, tony and ian no longer cover the cricket, their voices have been the sound of summer for so long its hard to imagine watching the cricket in australia without them! my favorite bill lawry call was when beven hit a four to win the ODI in sydney against the windies, bet bill had no voice after that!!!

  • Meety on January 30, 2012, 4:11 GMT

    Good onya Bill! The 12th man tapes - priceless!!!!

  • it_is_all_happening_out_there on January 30, 2012, 4:17 GMT

    An all time great, a real legend, Bill Lawry. Modern cricket owes a lot to the ever-entertaining shouts of B Lawry.

  • Sinhabahu on January 30, 2012, 4:22 GMT

    Great interview, the man's true passion for the sport comes out. A wonderful read.

  • on January 30, 2012, 4:31 GMT

    One of the slowest and most boring batsman ever to watch.

  • Emancipator007 on January 30, 2012, 5:16 GMT

    Yeah, yeah, like many youngsters I have grown up craving to listen to Lawry's excitable screeches and yelps and the other 9 Comms. But have realized he is ABSOLUTELY partisan and can't see beyond Aussie players (confirmed also in the interview by saying 3 most exciting players he has seen being OZ, shocking given the amount of non-OZ talent paraded in OZ in the '80s). So he did not find a Lara, Richards, Marshall, Ambrose, Patterson (whose EXTREME pace scared the living daylights out of OZ batsmen according to Deano), Donald, Pietersen, Akthar, Bond EXCITING? Even Richardson weaved his Calypso magical batting in OZ. Bill was horribly patronizing towards Asian players when they performed superbly (almost like he could not believe it) and more so absolute giants such as Akram, Kapil,(who has done very well in OZ), Aravinda. He was shocked when Razzaq kept belting McGrath ruthlessly and consistently in a tri-series. Also when Jayasuriya hit 100s and won back to back matches vs OZ and Eng.

  • Emancipator007 on January 30, 2012, 5:20 GMT

    Among the Channel 9 commentators, only Chappelli is absolutely unbiased and superbly analytical unlike Lawry, Benaud is OK but can also get patronizing. Greig baits Asian players even if he might love Sri Lankan players. Of the current lot, Slater is boorish and racist (I was about to contact ICC about his sniggers about W Hinds's heritage and getting Kolpak status in a commentary stint with Nicholas and also his diatribe against Dravid during the 2008 series), Healy patriotic. Only Taylor is trying to mold himself like Chappelli and shows no overt bias at all. By the way, why is Channel 9 afraid of inviting strong Asian personalities like Gavaskar (who was a regular earlier) and Ganguly in the box? Always heard rumors that Gavaskar was too straight talking for their liking. Fans need to understand that Gavaskar just adopts the nationalistic approach on ESPN STAR to countervail the biasedness of Sky and 9. Otherwise he is remarkably neutral on BBC and other forums.

  • crickstats on January 30, 2012, 6:08 GMT

    This commentary should have been released with Audio,

  • johnathonjosephs on January 30, 2012, 6:21 GMT

    Wow, he credits Gilchrist and Hayden for starting the "explosive opening" trend in ODIs. Sanath and Kaluwitharana should be credited with that.