Iain Gallaway, who died in Dunedin yesterday aged 98, played three first-class games for Otago but will be forever remembered for his services to broadcasting, and cricket commentary in particular, during a 40-year career behind the microphone.
A past president, and life member of New Zealand Cricket, Iain was a lawyer by profession, albeit a “reluctant” one, having initially had his heart set on becoming a journalist – before World War 2 and, upon his return, an extremely unattractive salary offer from the Otago Daily Times changed his mind.
He was a keen and capable cricketer, wicket-keeping for the Carisbrook club in Dunedin; for a variety of services teams in the war, and for Otago in three first-class games, the second of which was against Wally Hammond’s MCC tourists at Carisbrook in 1947. This was also the match in which Bert Sutcliffe debuted for Otago – scoring a double of 197 and 112.
In demand as an after-dinner speaker, Iain would often joke about his own contribution in this match, recalling how, after the eventual dismissal of Sutcliffe for 197, and the subsequent raucous ovation from the Carisbrook crowd, he was dismissed first ball and walked off to the continuing applause for the previous batsman.
Iain was a pioneer of cricket and rugby radio commentary, taking over from Dunedin’s “Whang” McKenzie in 1953, and developing into New Zealand’s pre-eminent sports broadcaster over the ensuing four decades, his gravelly tones, knowledgeable analysis, and dry sense of humour making his voice a household favourite.
His most exotic, not to mention challenging assignment, came in 1955, when he was tasked with accompanying the New Zealand team on its maiden tour of Pakistan and India – just eight years after Partition, with the sub-continent in disarray, and illness, poverty and death ever-present.
With an absolute minimum of infrastructure, technology, or resourcing, and not a commentary box in sight, Iain recalled that he would sometimes find himself calling a game while sitting in a bough of a tree, or taking up other unorthodox observation points, in order to gain a decent view of proceedings.
He later became a part of Radio New Zealand’s Sports Roundup service, bringing cricket commentaries to radio listeners throughout the country on AM frequencies otherwise used by the Concert Programme. Together with Alan Richards, Colin Snedden, Trevor Rigby and Peter Sharp, his voice became synonymous with summer, and the game of cricket.
Iain eventually became known as “The Voice of Carisbrook” although arguably his favourite cricket ground was Molyneux Park in Alexandra, where Otago hosted many of its fixtures over the Christmas and New Year holiday period. His signature line, “Not a Cloud in the Sky” was the title of his autobiography, published in 1997.
Iain loved Central Otago and, in particular, the Maniototo. He had a holiday home in Patearoa and during the 60s and 70s organised many-end-of-season cricket “tours” to the region, usually involving an invitation team stacked with cricket personalities and players, which squared off against a variety of local sides.
As well as being the Patron of the Otago Cricket Association, he served in a variety of capacities within the OCA and the Dunedin Cricket Association and was awarded an MBE in 1978 and a QSO in 1986, each for services to cricket, rugby, and the community.
He is also a former chairman of the Broadcasting Standards Authority, and a former, and long-serving Chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Dunedin.
Iain is survived by his son Garth, and daughters Alice, Sarah and Ann.