From underarm to overarm: the ultimate evolution of bowling in cricket
February 1, 1981. The sporting world hit rock bottom. Australia was disgraced. Players, fans, commentators—all of them were equally disgusted. Even cricket hid under the bushes with shame.
It was the third final of the Benson & Hedges World Series Cup between hosts Australia and New Zealand. The Kiwis required an unlikely six off the last bowl to tie the match.Normally, you would expect a yorker, low full-toss or a slow bouncer—a difficult delivery to hit over the fence.
But these were extraordinary times, and the Aussie captain wasn’t going to take any chances.
Greg Chappell ordered the bowler—his brother Trevor Chappell—to roll the final ball underarm. It was a legal delivery at that time, or simply put, wasn’t illegitimate by the books. And to hit a six off that would break even the mightiest backs.
Brian McKechnie, the on-strike batsman, got bent out of shape. Unwillingly, he tapped the ball to his leg side and flung away the bat in disgust. And though Australia won the match, the victors were booed off from their home ground in Melbourne.
“(It) was one of the worst things that I’ve ever seen on a cricket field,” said the late Australian sporting legend Richie Benaud, celebrated for his marvellous commentary.
Follow the interactive below as we break down how cricket went about this transformation.