Working with Bruce
The season after we won the Sheffield Shield in 2014, I had a the only real injury I’ve had in my career – a stress fracture in my L5 (back injury) – and was sidelined for a whole season, basically. It put me, for the first time, in a position where I was forced to think about what my life would look like without cricket.
Around that time, Ned Hall from the ABC randomly gave me a ring and asked me if I’d like to have a go commentating on ABC’s Grandstand. It was an opportunity that sounded great.
The next thing I knew I found myself on air broadcasting with Jim Maxwell in the match at the Adelaide Oval between Australia and India, the first time cricket was played after we lost Phil Hughes. Apart from the challenge of being on air for the first time, it was a really trying time personally. It was an extremely emotional match, as we all remember, with the minutes’ silence and the big ‘408’ on the ground surface.
The significance of that match was huge. But it also struck a chord with me, in that it showed me just how much I love the game of cricket and how much it means to me. I may have had no preparation for stepping into the commentary role, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I loved describing what I was seeing and providing an analytical view of the game. It also meant that my wife Kim didn’t have to listen to me doing exactly that in our lounge room at home!
Working in broadcasting has become a great love of mine. This year I had an experience which took me to a new level of confidence with it. When I started working with Channel Seven, who had secured the cricket rights, I can vividly remember one of the highlights of the summer, in Melbourne at the MCG working at the Boxing Day Test.
On day one, in the studio, Bruce McAvaney came over and introduced himself. Over the next little while, he gave me some absolute gold nuggets about how he sees cricket and commentating. Little did I realise Bruce’s ultimate goal in life was to wear a Baggy Green cap playing cricket for Australia! He said he enjoyed the way I was going, which was a huge thing to hear from such a legend.
The next thing I knew I found myself on air with Jim Maxwell … the first time cricket was played after we lost Phil Hughes.
Watching the way Bruce goes about his work has been the best education. He was doing extended interviews with legends of the game and each morning he’d be in there doing his research while watching the cricket.
As I’d go to air for my analysis segments, Bruce would be sitting on the couch right next to me, talking to me in the gaps about how to deliver things – basically how to broadcast – and talking about cricket stories.
It wasn’t hard for me to realise what an incredible and fortunate chance I’d been given. Not only was I attempting to establish a future career in the game of cricket, I was learning a new craft from the best in business. Literally, money cannot buy that type of experience.
Apart from that, Bruce is just the most amazing human being, so happy to sit and chat cricket with me and give me priceless tips. I hope he knows the magnitude of his impact on me.
— #7Cricket (@7Cricket) January 25, 2019
Bruce and the whole Channel 7 crew have been a great support as I’ve started to make my way in broadcasting. But my amazing wife has been a huge supporter of mine throughout my career on and off the field. Kim’s got World Cup gold medals, been to Commonwealth Games, captained and played 80 Tests for Australia and is still the best leader I know in her current role as captain for the Giants in Super Netball.
Her dad played reserve grade for the Rabbitohs, her mum won medals at Commonwealth Games in swimming. But none of that stuff is plastered around the house or broadcast to anyone. They’re all just great people.
What I’ve gained from their knowledge of sport is the support of people who understand the ebbs and flows of what we do. They’ve helped me so much over the years to keep an even keel, whether things are going well or not. As do my family back home in Bathurst, who provide such great, unconditional support.
Kim has been very encouraging of my career in the media. She sees great value in doing things outside of sport, in having different interests and setting things up for the future. We’re just really happy.
It’s amazing, when you have a beautiful loving wife, two dogs and a great life outside of the game, how much that can take the angst away and allow you to just enjoy life for what it is.
Onwards to the final we go. I am so proud of what this NSW team has achieved already, with so many players realising their potential and standing up and delivering match-winning performances. Now for the biggest one of them all. BLUE.