Ian Chappell ‘on the ball’ as usual | Sunday Observer

Ian Chappell ‘on the ball’ as usual

Former Australian cricket captain Ian Michael Chappell has a penchant to get embroiled in controversy. That’s not a bad thing as now and again cricket needs a kick up the pants! Not only now, but even during his playing days and more so when he was captain of the baggy green caps, Ian C was controversy prone .

You can’t keep Chappell out of the picture. As a cricketer he was a classic right hand batsman. He was in the aggressive mould and had the potential to be a threatening leg spin bowler and an excellent slip fielder.

But why he did not concentrate on his bowling which would have added variety and strength to the Australian attack is beyond me. As a slip fielder he was in the class of yet another brilliant Australian opening batsman and captain Bobby Simpson of whom it is said could even catch a fly.

Before going on to enumerate on Chappell’s career that was studded with controversy, the writer would like to put down in print Chappell’s latest innovations to make the game more controversial and whose innovations could be given a close study, accepted and if not confined to the WPB.

Here are Chappell’s innovations that he calls radical changes given wide publicity in the print media. It reads: LBW LAWS. Administrators should make a change to the leg before wicket law in favor of bowers. ‘The new lbw law should simply say ‘any delivery that strikes the pad without first hitting the bat and in the umpire’s opinion, would go on to hit the stumps is out regardless of whether or not a shot is attempted.

These laws would help redress any imbalance and make the game, particularly Test cricket, a far more entertaining spectacle’.

The second on BALL POLISHING – he says that captains should agree on the way of working up the ball which will encourage swing bowling as the ICC is considering the use of artificial substances to shine the ball instead of sweat and saliva which are considered health risks due to the covid-19.

Now to those who have not worn a pair of pads, or those who claim to have played cricket, these innovations by Chappell will not make encouraging reading and might sound weird. But a close study on how they could be applied will be worth it.

However these innovations will come under the study and close scrutiny of the law makers of the game the Marleybourne Cricket Club and the International Cricket Council before being accepted or rejected. As for the writer these are sound innovations and must not be treated lightly but given serious thought and consideration.

The MCC, the law makers of the game is headed by former Sri Lankan cricketing great Kumar Sangakkara, who broke the stranglehold of this position held for decades by the ‘whites’ by becoming the first non-white to hold this exalted position, will we are sure consider Chappell’s innovations.

Now to Ian Michael Chappell. Elder brother of Greg and Trevor, Ian was controversial as they come not only when wearing whites, but when out of it as well as captain and later writer and commentator. He had arrogance written all over him.

But to his credit it must be said that he was a rebel and stormy petrel of Australian cricket like were two former greats Keith Miller and Sid Barnes. As captain he did not demand respect, but earned it by those who played under him for his no nonsense approach.

He could not care about the administrators or whoever ran the game during his time. He stood by his team which included the cream of world cricketers at that time and every member would on the field play from out of their skins for him.

To him winning was not the thing but everything. He did not break the rules but stretched it to the maximum to see that his team won. If his side failed to win he would vent his frustration on them and the next match saw them coming out firing all cylinders and knocking out their opponents.

At one time they were labeled the ugly Australians under his captaincy, because under his captaincy that the Aussies made sledging a fine art and thrived on it to upset the opponents calling sledging ‘mental disintegration’. Opponents attempted to copy it, but sadly came a cropper.

Ian particularly disliked the selectors of that time and insisted on the team he would want to take out on the field and being a firebrand captain, the selectors had no choice, but oblige.

Many years ago there was a picture caption in the famous magazine ‘SPORTSTAR’ showing Ian dropping his pants as if to adjust his ‘box’ and showing his bum to the selectors probably unhappy with what may have been discussed at the Selection Committee meeting.

Once when a request from him was probably turned down, he got his team members to cycle to the ground probably refusing transport. The teams he led were devastating with two killer pacemen in it Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson.

Sri Lankans Sunil Wettimuny and Ranjit Fernando who opened batting and Duleep Mendis will vouch for the killer instinct of Lillee and Thomson goaded by skipper Ian.

Ian also saw to it that his team was in vogue getting them to play in bell bottoms.

More could be written about the three Chappell brothers whose maternal grandfather was the respected Vic Richardson. But lack of space does not permit me.

But I will be failing if I do not mention that when the younger Chappell, Trevor was Sri Lanka’s fielding coach he made the Lankans the best fielding side in the world which the Lankans are still straining every sinew, nerve and muscle to reach fielding’s Mount Everest.

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