Tuesday, February 1, 2011
30 years ago ...
Yes, dear readers. It's 30 years this very day since one of the lowest points in trans-Tasman sporting relations took place; the day that Australian captain Greg Chappell instructed his brother Trevor to bowl the last ball of an ODI at the Melbourne Cricker Ground underarm.
It was Game Three of the five-match finals series in the Benson and Hedges World Series Cup; the first time that the New Zealand team had participated in the pyjama game in Australia. New Zealand won the first finals match, and Australia won the second. This match would give the winners an advantage. Batting first, Australia scored 235 for four. With one ball remaining, New Zealand needed six to tie, and a new batsman, Brian McKechnie had just come to the crease. The rest is, as they say in the classics, history.
Reaction was swift. The rules of the WSC were changed the next day to forbid underarm bowling. New Zealand PM Robert Muldoon described it as "the most disgusting incident I can recall in the history of cricket", going on to say that "it was an act of true cowardice and I consider it appropriate that the Australian team were wearing yellow". Australian PM Malcolm Fraser called the act "contrary to the traditions of the game.". And the rivalry between New Zealand and Australian on the sporting field went up several notches.
This was indeed a very sad day for cricket. In the video that follows, Richie Benaud, himself a former Australian captain rightly got stuck in to Greg Chappell labelling the incident as a "disgraceful performance from a captail who got his sums wrong today". We love to criticise the Channel Nine cheeleading of Australian cricket, but on this occasion, Benaud was 100% right, in our always-humble opinion.
Here, in its full glory, is the last over of this never-to-be-forgotten day, with Benaud's posmatch wrap following.