“He’s got him,” will never ring out the commentary box again. Bill Lawry, 81, has finally retired from all commentary after Channel Nine lost its Test cricket coverage rights to Seven in Australia.
Lawry, an obdurate opening batsman who played and captained Australia, remained loyal to Nine until the end. He got offers to continue but said no.
It will be a great loss to cricket audiences all over the world. The thin reedy voice describing the play with great acumen, making sound judgement about what the player or captain should do without getting too technical were hallmarks of his commentary.
Lawry always stressed that the words of his former boss Kerry Packer who said that getting too technical about the game would go above the head of many of the audiences.
And the silence. This was an integral part of commentary and Lawry did that to perfection along with his fellow commentators like the great Richie Benaud, Ian Chappell and Tony Grieg.
The light banter between these greats also made many a break interesting and minutes passed without realising.
Lawry commented for 40 years which in itself is creditable. He never compromised on quality. There was no bias but he did not hesitate to criticise if the need arose.
Benaud was the King of Commentators and his influence rubbed off on Lawry, Chappell and others.
There is a lesson here for many commentators around the world which they must heed too. Commentators today do not realise that the audience is actually watching and there is no need to state the obvious. This never happens, particularly in India.
We have some commentators who give us a gabfest every time they pick up the microphone. Instead of giving their input, we are treated to a complete description from the time the ball hits the bat until it reaches the boundary or the fielder. This is totally unnecessary,
Forget the silence. Then comes the constant chatter during and in between an over. Some of them haven’t even played cricket but profess their opinion as they were a Sachin Tendulkar or a Kapil Dev.
You are treated to some technical aspect of a batsman or bowler which is affecting their game. The majority of the audience don’t care and don’t even want to know.
Bias is also an important part of their make-up. If they like a player then they go ballistic about him even if he hasn’t performed. God forbid, if they don’t like a player. The poor chap is dissected like a surgeon doing a complex operation.
What they fail to realise that that there are enough naïve audiences who lap up their nonsense and this could affect the player in question and he may get branded.
One former India player who now commentates regularly disliked Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan so much that he spared no effort to criticise him.
It didn’t matter really for Muralitharan took 800 surgeon and this gent could never reach the heights despite having some potential.