Lawry confirms commentary exit

Iconic caller confirms he will not seek to continue his commentary career

Sam Ferris

15 May 2018, 11:23 AM AEST

Cricket icon Bill Lawry has confirmed his commentary career has officially come to an end after four decades behind the microphone.

After Channel Nine lost the Australian television rights to broadcast cricket for the first time since the late 1970s, Lawry was approached by new rights holders Seven Network and Foxtel to join their commentaries teams.

But having been with Nine for more than 40 years, Lawry said he couldn’t leave his "home" and decided now was the right time to walk away.

"I’ve had 40 great years at Channel Nine," Lawry said on SEN’s Whateley program. "I’ve been very, very lucky and I think the time is just right.

"It’s just been such a wonderful journey and I don’t want to spoil the great journey.

Memorable moments from Channel Nine

"I’ve seen the best cricketers of the last 40 years, I’ve been through the Packers years, I’ve commentate with guys like Ian Healy and Mark Taylor and all the new boys.

"It’s just been a wonderful journey I never really expected.

"I had a phone call or two (from Seven and Foxtel), which is fair enough.

Lawry classic leaves crowd in stitches

"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 recalled with fondness his first meeting with Kerry Packer, the former head of Nine who revolutionised cricket coverage through World Series Cricket.

"The time Packer called us together in 1975-76, I remember (former Australia batsman) Keith Stackpole and I went to the first meeting or two and said this will only last a couple of years, let’s enjoy ourselves," he said. "We were way off the mark there!

"It was a nervous time. When Keith Stackpole and I fronted up to the first game, in the commentary box was Richie Benuad and Freddie Trueman, the great England and Yorkshire fast bowler.

"We sat at the back of the box and listened to Richie who had been 11 or 12 years with the ABC, so he was an experienced campaigner and Freddie Trueman was a great story-teller.

"I looked at ‘Stacky’ and said ‘We can’t do this’. But we did and we enjoyed every minute of it.

"We had the best seat in the house to watch the best cricketers.

"The success of World Series Cricket was purely due to the quality of the cricketers; the World XI, the great West Indian team and Ian Chappell mustering an Australian team, and of course the good coverage.

"Keith and I go out regularly and can’t believe we were part of such wonderful times."

While his time behind the mic for Wide World of Sports has come to an end, Lawry cheekily indicated he might not be completely lost to the Australian public.

"I’ll certainly stay connected to Channel Nine," Lawry said. "That will be my home forever, I’m not going to leave Channel Nine.

"I’ll probably pop up and give the pigeon results once or twice."

Both Foxtel and Seven have wasted little time assembling their commentary lineups.

Foxtel have recruited Adam Gilchrist, Mark Waugh, Mel Jones, Isa Guha, Mike Hussey and Michael Vaughan to join stalwarts Brendon Julian and Allan Border, with legendary spinner Shane Warne reportedly set to sign on with the pay TV provider. 

Meanwhile, Seven have secured the services of former Australia captain Ricky Ponting.