“Things will continue to happen on the cricket fields. But the voice that so unequivocally informed us that such was indeed the case will no longer be heard”.
When he played the game, the thin emaciated form of Bill Lawry, combined with his dour defensive batting style, gave rise to the nickname ‘Corpse with Pads’.
Some also called him the ‘Run Digger’. His effectiveness was seldom in question. He still remains one of the best openers ever produced by Australia. But no one would have called him an attractive batsman.
However, the moment he made his migration into the commentary box, the shroud of spare austerity disappeared from the Lawry persona. The man became lively, animated, and lovable. In fact, the excitement that was conspicuous in its absence in his playing style was infectious in the voice.
Not as insightful or respected perhaps as Richie Benaud, nowhere near as cutting and controversial as Geoff Boycott or Ian Chappell, Lawry nevertheless has his own legion of fans. They admire him, especially the change in decibel level when something of interest takes place, such as a six or a wicket.
Lawry has always wanted people to enjoy the game, and if his voice helps them do so he is seldom happier.
Indeed, seldom does a cricket match aired from Australia seem complete without the familiar voice telling us: “It’s all happening out there.” And that eventful “Got him, yes!”
Now at 81, Lawry is reportedly all set to move out of the box. The broadcasting rights have passed on from Channel Nine to Seven and Fox. And Lawry, a pillar of the Nine brigade, seems not too keen to continue under the new channels. It seems he has refused the offers of both these networks.
Yes, he is getting on. And yes, the new channels have assembled a formidable number of big names in their midst, names from the immediate cricketing past.
Fox Sports have roped in the likes of Mark Waugh and Mike Hussey, to add to their team which already boasts Adam Gilchrist and Alan Border. Seven has even got Ricky Ponting to sign on the dotted line for a multi-year deal.
True, one cannot complain about the new teams assembled. There is every reason to be excited. Besides, the days of Lawry, like the proverbial assortment of all good things, must someday come to an end.
But, there will definitely remain a hollow ring to the airwaves, a sad echo of the days past, when we were told emphatically that it was all happening out there.
Things will continue to happen on the cricket fields. But the voice that so unequivocally informed us that such was indeed the case will no longer be heard.