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Bob Simpson’s ‘terrible’ advice that ruined hooking for Ian Chappell

by Manoj Narayan 2 minute read

Ian Chappell, the former Australia captain, has spoken of the “terrible” advice from Bob Simpson that cost him his hook shot, saying it needed three months of intense work to get it back.

Chappell, speaking to former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson in the Lessons Learnt with the Greats podcast, said Simpson was a great person for advice on other aspects of the sport, like running between the wickets or catching, but not when it came to batting.

“I got some terrible advice from Bob Simpson,” said Chappell. “It was my first tour to South Africa in 1966/67. The problem … and this is why I’ve said Bob Simpson was a good coach [for] catching and running between wickets, not batting, because I have personal experience, he was very much … if you didn’t play like him, it wasn’t the right way.

“And he came to me sometime during that tour, and said, ‘Ian, you should give up hooking. I gave up hooking, look what it did for me – if you’ve got enough shots to score without hooking, you should give it up.’ Now the worst part of that advice was that I listened to it, and it sort of filtered in a bit. I’ve never, ever really wanted to give up hooking, but I got into the worst possible state of, ‘Will I or won’t I?’ And I got into a mess there for a while.

“I’ve always felt you couldn’t sort things out in the middle of a series – you didn’t have time, and to sort things out needs quite a lot of time, particularly if you’re trying to sort out hooking. And so 1970/71 [Ashes], Snowy [John Snow] was bowling – he was not only a good bowler, but very accurate. His bouncers, you always had to do something, so I got into a bit of strife with Snowy.

But I thought, ‘I’ve just got to live or die with what I’ve got at the moment’. But as soon as this was over, we had a break for six months. So Greg [Chappell, brother] and I spent three months at Plympton High school in Adelaide, which was just down the road from where I lived. They had some nice, shiny cement pitches and we had lots of baseballs, which bounce a bit more than the cricket balls. Both of us being baseballers, we had good arms and were accurate.

“We spent three months doing that, and I sorted out my hooking. I probably went to the other extreme for a while – every bouncer that was bowled, I was going to hook the bloody thing, including some that were three feet above my head!”

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