Watch: The World XI needed two runs to win the 1978/79 World Series Cricket SuperTests, but Ian Chappell deprived them of the pleasure of the winning hit by bowling a deliberate wide.
On their first meeting, Kerry Packer had shocked Ian Chappell with an unexpected question: “Who do you want in this f**king team of yours?”
“Hang on, Kerry. I’m not the Australian captain. Greg Chappell is the captain of Australia, so I don’t think it’s really down to me as to who is in the side,” came the surprised response.
But Packer would have none of it: “What do you think this is, son, a f**king democracy? I pay the bills, I choose the captain. You re the f**king captain.”
So Chappell it was, leading Australia in one of the most significant cricketing contests in history. In the first season, World Series Cricket Australia lost 2-1 to both WSC West Indies and WSC World XI, but the real contest was between Packer and the Australian board.
The fans were initially more focused on the touring Indians (who lost 3-2 against a third-string Australian side), but when Packer switched the floodlights on, so did the interest.
Australians fans could now see the most devastating fast bowlers in the world bowl under lights at the greatest batters. The myriad injuries perhaps hastened the popularity of the helmet in the sport. By the time the SuperTests had progressed to the second season, few were still hooked to Test cricket, now reduced to a mismatch between a full-strength England and a severely depleted Australia.
WSC World XI reached the final in 1978/79 as well. There was a semi-final too, and here Dennis Lillee (2-33 and 7-23) and Ray Bright (6-52 and 1-12) blew WSC West Indies away, and Australia romped home by 10 wickets.
The final at the SCG, however, was a different proposition. Garth le Roux (5-57) and Mike Procter (3-33) had their way, but so did Lillee (5-51) and Gary Gilmour (4-53), and WSC Australia managed a four-run lead.
It seemed their match to lose when they then posted 219, largely due to a 134-run fourth-wicket stand between Bruce Laird (58) and David Hookes (96), but le Roux (4-44) and Imran Khan (3-60) triggered a collapse, and WSC World XI were left to chase 224.
Gilmour then took out Eddie Barlow for a duck. Zaheer Abbas made 37, but at 84-4, it was anyone’s game. At this point, Barry Richards (101 not out) and Asif Iqbal (44) added 91 in quick time. Once Asif fell, Procter stayed put, and with Imran and Alan Knott to follow, WSC World XI had little to worry.
When they needed two runs to win, Ian Chappell brought himself on. He put in a slip, marked his run-up, and ambled towards the bowling crease in a yellow shirt and white sweater, presumably to bowl his leg-breaks.
It was probably a leg-break. Or maybe not. No one cared, for it went towards fine-leg. Behind the stumps, Rod Marsh made no attempt to collect the ball as it raced away for four byes.
Chappell could not prevent Tony Greig from lifting the trophy, but could at least prevent his side the pleasure of a winning hit.
Ian would not be happy two seasons later, when brother Greg would ask Trevor, the third brother, to bowl underarm in an ODI against New Zealand.
Watch Ian Chappell’s humongous wide here:
During WSC, Ian Chappell brought himself onto bowl with the World X1 requiring 2 runs to win the final.
He deliberately bowled 4 wides because he didn’t want Tony Greig’s side having the privilege of hitting the winning runs. pic.twitter.com/LBkVotZAl8
— The Oracle (@BigOtrivia) January 12, 2023