MELBOURNE, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Former Australia captain Greg Chappell said on Thursday that if he could change one decision in his life, it would be ordering the infamous underarm delivery 20 years ago. Chappell told his brother Trevor to bowl underarm along the ground for the final delivery of a limited overs international against New Zealand on February 1, 1981.
The action prevented tailender Brian McKechnie hitting the six runs required for a tie in the first match of the finals series. "If I had my time again I wouldn't do it. Unfortunately I didn't have the luxury of a second guess at it, but at that stage I didn't care," Chappell was quoted as saying in the Herald Sun on Thursday. Australian newspapers paid tribute on Thursday to the underarm - one of the most infamous incidents in the country's history.
The incident prompted then New Zealand Prime Minister Robert Muldoon to express his displeasure to Australian counterpart Malcolm Fraser. Greg Chappell said a tough schedule that summer and ongoing negotiations with officials over playing conditions had left him "mentally unfit" to be captain that day.
McKechnie, a strongly-built batsman who also played rugby for the All Blacks, said the would not have been able to clear the boundary on the huge Melbourne Cricket Ground even against a normal delivery. But he added that an incident earlier in the match, when the Kiwis thought they had dismissed the Australian skipper had added to the intensity of the match.
Chappell went on to make 90. "Well I was disgusted at the time ... but an hour after the game we were just sort of joking about it," McKechnie said on Australian television. Trevor Chappell, a three-test veteran and the lesser-known younger brother of Australian captains Ian and Greg, said at least it meant he was famous for something.
Australian wicketkeeping great Rod Marsh, now head coach at Australia's cricket academy, said the only positive to come from the incident was the rule change outlawing the ploy.