Speaking on Time To Talk with Sean Sennett, Ian Chappell recalled several disputes with various governing bodies, including when he almost left South Australia, where he was captain, ahead of the 1972/73 season.
In this instance, Chappell almost felt forced to move after a fall out with Don Bradman, who was a South Australia Cricket Association committee member, over the signing of Pakistan batsman Younis Ahmed as an overseas player.
“When I was fighting with the South Australian mob, that got really ugly,” he said. “That started in 74/75 or even before that, with Bradman and bloody Younis Ahmed, the world’s greatest prick.”
For Chappell, while he didn’t go into the reasons for his dislike of Ahmed, it wasn’t just personality that meant he didn’t want him in the XI. He felt South Australia didn’t need him from a cricketing point of view, and that his inclusion would prevent a young batsman from being blooded and gaining valuable experience.
“We had a really good side,” he said. “In 70/71 we’d won the Shield with Barry Richards. Our batting order was [Ashley] Woodcock, [John] Causby, [Ian] Chappell, [Greg] Chappell, [Kenneth] Cunningham, which is a pretty good Sheffield Shield line-up, and a very experienced line-up.
“So what we needed was to fit a young guy in at No.6 and bring him into a side that was playing well, had a lot of experienced players that could help him, blood him in so that in a year or two he was ready to move up the line. They wanted to get Younis Ahmed, who, apart from being a prick of a bloke, wasn’t that good a bloody cricketer.
“My reasoning was, by that stage I was in my third season as captain, and we’d built a good spirit in the team, it was a good team, we all got on well together, we didn’t need this prick coming in and spoiling things. Plus we didn’t need him as a player anyhow.” When Chappell found out that Ahmed was close to signing – not from someone at South Australia, but from someone at Adelaide grade cricket club Prospect CC – he was incensed.
“I found out when [Jeff] Hammond told me in England because he was going to Prospect, which was the same club as Jeff. He told me, ‘Prospect are going to get Younis Ahmed’. So eventually I wrote a letter to [South Australia administrator] Les Favell, which was a mistake, because he was a Bradman sycophant. And I just said, ‘Look, if Younis Ahmed plays for South Australia I’m playing somewhere else’.”
Chappell went onto imagine what responses he would have had for Bradman, who he described as a “vindictive little bastard”, had he been involved in the committee meeting where the letter was discussed.
“Of course Les showed the letter to Bradman straight away, and I know about it because Martin, my father, was on the committee,” he said. “He was in the meeting and Bradman was like “Who’s this boy think he is? Does he think he’s running South Australian cricket?” And my answer to that would have been, ‘no Don, I know you’re f***in’ running it.’
“He then said a stupid thing, and this is one of the problems that I’ve always had with Bradman. His cricket intelligence was overridden by his vindictiveness. He was a very vindictive little bastard. At the same meeting he said ‘Younis Ahmed’s a good player, he gets 1,000 runs every year in county cricket’.
“My answer to that would have been ‘Well, Don, I could shove my bat up my arse and make 1,000 runs in county cricket, because you get about 30 hits.’ Bradman got 1,000 in May, and more than once. Now 1,000 runs in county cricket is not so easy, but then my daughter could have done it.”
Chappell eventually chose to stay at South Australia as captain, leading them to a second-place finish. Ahmed scored only 264 runs in nine innings, with no hundreds, and while Chappell also didn’t ton up – there were only two South Australian hundreds all year – he averaged over 50 in the competition.