Former Australian captain Greg Chappell has provided insights into the infamous ‘underarm bowling’ ODI incident against New Zealand in 1981. Chappell disclosed that the decision to employ the underarm delivery was not solely driven by on-field considerations but was also fueled by frustration with the unsatisfactory conditions at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
The ‘underarm’ incident occurred during the final delivery of the third final of the Benson & Hedges World Series Cup where Chappell instructed his younger brother Trevor Chappell to deliver an underarm ball to prevent New Zealand from scoring the six needed to tie the match. While technically legal at the time, the underarm delivery was widely considered unsportsmanlike and led to significant criticism. The incident played a role in the subsequent outlawing of underarm bowling in cricket.
Chappell’s Frustration With MCG Conditions
Greg Chappell, acknowledged that it’s not one of the prouder moments in his career. He clarified that the decision had very little to do with the on-field dynamics of that day. Chappell explained while speaking on SEN 1170 Breakfast, that his frustration was primarily directed at the unsatisfactory playing conditions at the MCG and ongoing discussions about improving facilities. He highlighted the challenges faced by Cricket Australia in pushing for better standards.
“It’s not one of the better moments I get to reflect on… the difficult part probably for people to understand is it had very little to do with what was going on the field on that day. That was part of it, obviously. But there was a lot of stuff going on around the team and cricket at the time, not least of all around the MCG and the standard of the pitches that we were copping at the MCG at the time.” Chappell told SEN 1170 Breakfast.
“I was in the middle of plenty of discussions on a regular basis… about getting better facilities. They (Cricket Australia) didn’t own the ground, so they would go to Cricket Victoria who didn’t own the ground, who would go to the Melbourne Cricket Club… who didn’t seem to care much, which was a great shame. To serve up those sorts of conditions consistently at the MCG, it was disappointing from everyone’s point of view, except, it seemed, the MCC at the time. It was a decision that was made on the spur of the moment… and my thinking as he walked out to bat was, ‘I’ve had a gutful of this, this is what I think of it. It was probably about as good a decision as I was in a state of mind to be able to make,” he added.
‘You Cheated’ A Young Fan Said To Chappell
Greg Chappell further reflected on the aftermath of the ‘underarm’ incident, recognizing the lasting impact it had on both his and his brother Trevor’s legacies. Chappell vividly recalled a particular moment when a young girl accused him of cheating as he left the field.
“I didn’t hear Bill or Richie’s commentary until much later… but the most noticeable thing of that day… I was fielding down at long on so I had a 100-metre dash to the players’ gate to get off the ground, and I couldn’t get off the ground fast enough (before the crowd came on). There were kids running across, there was a young girl… she was running across and I slowed down but as she ran in front she turned, grabbed my sleeve, tugged on it and said, ‘you cheated’,” said Chappell.