2003. Former players & members of Channel Nine TV commentary team (L-R) Ian Healy, Mark Taylor, Ian Chappell, Richie Benaud, Tony Greig, Bill Lawry and Simon O'Donnell at SCG in Sydney.
2003. Former players & members of Channel Nine TV commentary team (L-R) Ian Healy, Mark Taylor, Ian Chappell, Richie Benaud, Tony Greig, Bill Lawry and Simon O'Donnell at SCG in Sydney.

Nine icon shares commentary box secrets

FOR the first time in 40 years, Bill Lawry will be off the airwaves during the Boxing Day Test.

The iconic cricket commentator became as much a mainstay of cricketing broadcasts as Richie Benaud throughout Channel Nine's iconic period of Australian cricket coverage.

But now, at 81, the former Aussie captain has hung up the mic and is taking a back seat from the cricket as Fox Sports and Channel 7 take the reins of the new era of televised cricket.

Speaking to the Herald Sun ahead of Australia and India's crucial third Test, the beloved Victorian shared a number of quirky titbits and insights into what went on behind the scenes during his commentary box career.

He revealed how former Nine boss Kerry Packer pulled him aside and offered him a career behind the glass.

"The few meetings I had with Kerry Packer, and I say few because you tried to dodge them of course," he said, laughing. "'Listen, you guys played the game and I hired you for your opinions and not someone else's, so be yourselves'," Lawry said.

Iconic.
Iconic.

"It was a bit different for me because it wasn't my profession, so I treated it as a bonus. Kerry had a view that 80 per cent of the audience didn't understand the game, so it was our job to explain it. He was tremendous to us and those early times during World Series Cricket were just very exciting to be part of."

Lawry shed light on the rocky beginnings for stoic pair Ian Chappell and Tony Greig, who initially locked horns in the commentary box and were separated as a result.

Greig, who tragically died in 2012 from lung cancer, was another of Nine's commentary box icons, known for his exuberant style and thick South African accent that became a staple of the Aussie summer over time.

"The cricket was of the highest level you will ever see and it extended to the commentary box where 'Greigy' (Tony Greig) and Ian (Chappell) didn't get on," Lawry continued. "I didn't worry too much about how the others got on as I would just do my job. But after a while I noticed our producer David Hill kept pairing me and 'Greigy' together. Tony and Ian were both very tough individuals who wouldn't budge, but they ended up good friends."

Lawry also shed light on his relationship with Richie Benaud in the box, revealing producers were trying to get more out of the timeless commentary great. But Richie wouldn't budge.

"They tried to get Richie to talk more, but he wasn't going to change his style and he didn't. I always felt safe when Richie was there."

The sound of summer.
The sound of summer.

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