February 1, 1981 saw a dark day in cricket for many. Greg Chappell exploited a loophole that won him the match, but led him to lose respect.
What was the incident?
It was Australia vs New Zealand and the latter needed 7 off the last ball to win. Trevor Chappell, Greg’s youngest brother was bowling and a six would tie the game. The skipper was in no mood to take chances. He told his brother to bowl underarm despite the wicketkeeper Rodney Marsh saying don’t do it. Even his older brother Ian, who was doing commentary, had no wish to see a controversy unfold.
But Greg paid no heed, Trevor bowled underarm and the batsman blocked it. Australia won by 6 runs but Greg was the subject of ridicule. Sadly, underarm deliveries were not yet illegal then; however, following this incident, they were banned altogether
What is underarm bowling?
Well actually in the early days of cricket (long before international matches), this was how it was done so that the ball would skim across the ground. As the name suggests, the ball would be bowled below the height of the arm and make the batsman’s job all the more difficult.
Cricket’s first great bowling revolution occurred probably in the 1760s when bowlers started to pitch the ball instead of rolling it along the ground. The change was evolutionary and has been described as the event that took cricket out of its “pioneering phase” into what may be termed its “pre-modern phase”.
Overarm bowling finally made an entry in 1864 and since then that is the way balls have been delivered.
Underarm bowling banned
So may be Greg thought he was turning back the clock? Who knows? He exploited a loophole and got away with it. Thankfully, this incident helped the lawmakers realise that this needed to be fixed and now you can’t bowl that way anymore.
In cricket, lob bowling is a largely disused style of bowling. It became illegal under Law 24.1 to use underarm bowling without prior agreement before the match following the incident in the 1980-81 World Series.
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