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‘He’s wasting his time’ – When Ian Chappell criticised Michael Bevan over short-ball issues

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Ian Chappell, speaking to Shane Watson on the Lessons Learnt with the Greats podcast, discussed former Australia batsman Michael Bevan‘s perceived problems with the short ball

The former Australia captain recalled an instance when he felt that Bevan was “wasting his time” after hearing about Bevan’s self-prognosis after a tour of England.

Bevan, considered one of the greatest one-day finishers of all time, had a relatively short Test career, which many attributed to his inadequacies against the short ball. Despite a bright start – he scored 82, 70 and 91 in three of his first four innings – Bevan’s career in whites tailed off after he managed just three more fifties in his 18-Test long career, spanning across four years.

Speaking on the different facets of facing bouncers and perfecting the hook shot, Chappell took the example of Bevan, whose troubles with the short ball he had observed during his commentary stints.

“Michael Bevan got into trouble with hooking – not so much hooking – he got into trouble with the short stuff,” Chappell said. “And, I made some comments about it. As a commentator, I was trying to be constructive with any criticism I gave, rather than just trying to tear a guy down. I mean, as a cricketer, I didn’t want to be torn down, so why would I tear somebody else down? Anyway, I made these comments.

“Bevan came back from England – this would have been probably the ’93 tour, I think, and Mark Ray, who played a few Shield games for New South Wales and Tasmania, and was a journalist, Mark rang me up and he said ‘I have been talking to Michael Bevan and he reckons he’s sorted out his hook shot’.

“And I said ‘Just before I answer anything, you tell me what he has been doing’. And he said ‘He’s had three months off, he just felt that he needed to clear his mind.’ [I said] ‘Tell him, he’s wasting his time. Because until he fixes the physical side of it, he can’t fix the mental side. He has to go and work on it and get that sorted. And even then, when you have worked out in the nets, you still got to then go out there in the middle, and do it in the middle before you’re really convinced in your own mind.'”

When asked about the issue in 2010, six years after his international retirement, Bevan felt that he “lacked a little belief” putting his problems down to being “psychological”, rather than “physical or technical”.

Chappell, who represented Australia from 1964 to 1980, further said that he was surprised by the way the game had evolved, over time, when it came to facing the short ball. “I was staggered how the game was so back-foot in those days [in the Seventies],” Chappell said, “and now, with all the protective equipment, it’s become a front-foot game.”

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