Warner craves Boxing Day
Australia batsman David Warner believes he is in career-best form and is looking to continue his hot streak during the Boxing Day Test.PT2M2S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2zvxn 620 349 December 24, 2013
"Got him, yes!"
As Mitchell Johnson ripped through England in Brisbane and Adelaide, and then finished off Alastair Cook's team in Perth, about the only thing missing was the famous call of Bill Lawry.
You get the impression the Channel Nine commentary box elder statesman would have had a field day over the carnage that befell England's batting order.
Back on deck: Bill Lawry is ready for Boxing Day. Photo: Ken Irwin
It is better late than never, though, and the 76-year-old former Test captain will be back in the chair and behind the microphone at the MCG from Boxing Day for the fourth Ashes Test. Age, illness and injury have sadly meant the most senior and revered members of Nine's team have not been around this summer to witness the unexpected Australian revival. An irreplaceable hole had already been left by the death of Tony Greig nearly a year ago, and Richie Benaud, at 83, is only slowly recovering from a broken sternum and shoulder and chest injuries suffered in a car accident near his eastern Sydney home in October.
Lawry's duties, too, have been restricted. His wife has been unwell, leading him to call only his home Test in Melbourne. "She's had a reasonable trot for about five months and I've been a bit of a housewife," Lawry said. "It's a new role for me. But I'm doing very well at it. I give myself nine out of 10, to be honest."
Inevitable change is well under way at the television broadcaster that has aired international cricket in Australia for more than three decades.
Lawry admits he misses fellow commentary icon and close friend Greig but greatly enjoys mixing with the next generation. "Everybody asks me that question," he said. "But Mark Taylor and Ian Healy are no longer younger. They've been there a decade. They're getting to my stage – I'm starting to put the finger on them. They've been around a long time and they're experienced. Look, it's a great place to be. I terribly miss Tony Greig, obviously, because he was my best buddy, but they've done a great job."
As for Benaud, he has kept watch on the Nine doyen's recovery. "I've spoken to [Benaud's wife] Daphne a few times. I think he's coming along slowly."
watched with interest the away series in England earlier this year and noticed signs that Cook's side could be on the slide.
"Australia at home were always a different kettle of fish. And when you relate back to England, even though they got beaten 3-0 they were probably in three Test matches with a chance at some stage. Australia have played very well but England have been disappointing. I think some of them have played like millionaires, as if it was going to happen, but they didn't make it happen. It's been a great effort by the Australians and, so far, a mediocre performance by the Englishmen."
Lawry was on hand at the MCG last year to present debutant bowler Jackson Bird with his baggy green cap on Boxing Day, reminding Michael Clarke's players to enjoy themselves despite pressure and expectation with the words "never forget it's only a game".
Players have identified a restored sense of fun as central to Australia's success this summer and while they will push for a 5-0 whitewash, a celebratory tone is tipped for the MCG and then the fifth Test in Sydney.
"I'm looking forward to it because I think ticket sales indicate [that on] Boxing Day . . . there are going to be about 80,000 to 85,000 people there," Lawry said. "And they're coming along to see the Australian players because they're playing so well. They're playing attacking cricket – [David] Warner's on fire, [Shane] Watson struck a magnificent hundred after a bit of a trot, Clarke is the best batsman in the world and they've got the middle like [Steve] Smith cementing his place, [Brad] Haddin making some runs, and obviously Johnson with the ball. It's a good place to be for an Australian supporter."