Cricket, the Brilliant Game!

A fresh take on cricket, the brilliant game…

The Underarm Incident of 1981….

Posted by wildkiwi25 on February 27, 2008

The Underarm Incident of 1981:
Cricket is a game that never has fully escaped the subject of controversy. No longer can cricket fans expect a controversy-free tournament or series. Take for instance examples like the 2007 Cricket World Cup, Bob Woolmer, Match-fixing (perhaps made famous by Hansie Cronje and co), Ball Tampering, Chucking, and one incident that has entrenched itself into the annals of cricketing history, one Australia in particular would love to remember and one New Zealand wouldn’t, is of course The Underarm Incident of 1981.

An infamous incident in a game of cricket, involving an underarm delivery occurred on February 1, 1981 when Australia was playing New Zealand in a One Day International, the third of five matches in the final of the Benson & Hedges World Series Cup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.In the February 1981 underarm delivery incident, the batsman at the non-striker’s end, Bruce Edgar, was on 102 not out at the time and his innings has been called “the most overlooked century of all time”.

The match had earlier controversy: in the Australian innings, Martin Snedden took a spectacular low outfield catch off the batting of Greg Chappell when he was on 52. It was disallowed by the umpires, although TV replays clearly showed it was a clean catch. Some commentators believed Chappell should have taken Snedden’s word that the catch was good. Chappell went on to score 90, before he was caught by Bruce Edgar in similar fashion. This time Chappell walked.In the confusion, one of the fielders (Dennis Lillee) forgot to walk into place, meaning that the underarm ball was technically a no-ball, because Australia had one too many fielders outside the field restriction line.

The delivery—>

New Zealand needed six runs to tie the match from the final ball, with eight wickets down. The Australian captain (Greg Chappell) ordered the bowler (his brother, Trevor Chappell) to bowl underarm: rolling the ball along the ground to avoid the possibility that the No. 10 New Zealand batsman (Brian McKechnie) would score a six from the last ball to tie the match.
Immediate reaction

Australia won the game, but boos were heard from the crowd and the New Zealand batsmen marched off in disgust. Since that day the underarm bowling incident has been a source of discussion, both heated and jocular, between Australians and New Zealanders.

It was described as “the most disgusting incident I can recall in the history of cricket” by the then Prime Minister of New Zealand, Rob Muldoon, who also said that “It was an act of cowardice and I consider it appropriate that the Australian team were wearing yellow”.

The reaction in Australia from then Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, called the act “contrary to the traditions of the game”. Commentating for Channel 9 at the time, Richie Benaud described the act as “disgraceful” and called it “one of the worst things I have ever seen done on a cricket field”.

Brian McKechnie bears no ill will over the incident but both Chappell brothers have publicly stated their embarrassment over the incident and, over 25 years later, are still reluctant to discuss it. Unfortunately for Trevor Chappell, this incident is what he is best remembered for. As a direct result of the incident, underarm bowling was banned in limited overs cricket by the International Cricket Council as not within the spirit of the game.New Zealand cricketer Warren Lees recounted the underarm incident on New Zealand’s 20/20 current-affairs show, on Thursday 17 February 2005. He said for long after the affair there was silence in the dressing room, which was broken suddenly and unexpectedly by fellow player Mark Burgess smashing a tea cup.

On February 17, 2005, 24 years after the original underarm delivery, Australian fast bowler Glenn McGrath light-heartedly revisited the incident in the first ever Twenty20 international, played between Australia and New Zealand. In the last over of the match, a grinning McGrath pretended to bowl an underarm delivery to Kyle Mills which prompted New Zealand umpire Billy Bowden to produce a mock red card. This drew a large reception from the crowd, which was mostly made up of New Zealand fans, and echoed the good spirits in which the whole game had been played.

Here is a video about the Underarm Incident, its well worth watching! —>

*With thanks and acknowledgements to,,


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: