Greg Chappell: Underarm Controversy at MCG

In the current landscape of modern-day cricket, the ongoing debate surrounding the spirit of the game has reached new heights. The contentious issue of run-outs at the non-striker’s end has only fueled this discourse. However delving into the past, in a particular incident at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in 1981, Greg Chappell set a negative example of how cricket ought not to be played.

The Benson & Hedges World Series Cup Drama

The backdrop of the controversy was the third clash in the Benson & Hedges World Series Cup finals. The series featured Australia, New Zealand, and India. It was a best-of-five finals format. With each team playing an extensive 10-game league stage, the Oceanian sides advanced to the best-of-five finals, setting the stage for an intense battle.

The Last Over Drama at MCG

As the series unfolded, New Zealand won the first final, with Australia leveling the score in the second. The pivotal third final at MCG went down to the wire. New Zealand required 15 runs off the last over to stay alive in the series. The equation came down to seven runs off the last ball, and the only chance for New Zealand was to tie the game with a six.

The Unprecedented Underarm Delivery Of Greg Chappell

In the controversial moment, the Australian skipper, Greg Chappell, instructed his brother Trevor Chappell to bowl an underarm delivery – an unconventional tactic where he rolled the ball along the pitch. Critics, including former players and even the Prime Ministers of both nations, immediately met the move with backlash, condemning it as against the traditions of the game.

Fallout and Uproar

The fallout from the underarm incident was swift. Richie Benaud, presenting for Channel 9, called it a “disgraceful performance,” while the Kiwi Prime Minister labeled it “an act of true cowardice.” Greg Chappell defended his decision, citing mental fatigue after a long summer of cricket. However, the cricketing community and fans were left questioning the integrity of the game.

Rule Violations and Unnoticed Controversies

Beyond the underarm incident, controversies surrounded the match. A potential fair catch for New Zealand was denied, and a fielding violation by Australia went unnoticed by the umpires. The uproar from the incident led to a significant change in cricketing laws, with the ICC subsequently banning underarm bowling.

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