March 18, 2013

They don't make 'em like that anymore

Samantha Pendergrast
Or do they? A look at how Chappelli's Australia would react to a homework assignment

The Australian dressing room, Headingley, July 29, 1972

Ian Chappell: All right, you bastards. That was a shameful defeat. I want answers. I'm not going back home having lost the Ashes twice in a row. Before we leave the dressing room, I want each of you bastards to write down three reasons why we lost, and what we can do to win at The Oval.

Doug Walters: (with a cigarette between his lips) You want answers?

Ian Chappell: I want the truth.

Walters: You can't handle the truth…

(There's a commotion. A young Rob Reiner runs past the dressing room, screaming "Drama gold!")

... when I tell you a revolution is going to take place in cricket and you'll be leading it.

Ian Chappell: Never mind that. Write it all down and hand it over.

Rod Marsh: Damn it, Chappelli, we lost because of the rubbish pitch.

Ian Chappell: I don't want excuses. Now start writing.

All you hear is the sound of pens scratching on paper, and occasional urgent whispers: "How do you spell 'sod'?", "Can 'fart' be used as an adjective?"

Ian Chappell: Done? Hand them over.

Right, let's read 'em out... All right, which of you ***** wrote this: "We lost because we batted like sheilas, bowled like sheilas and fielded like sheilas. To win at The Oval, we got to not be sheilas."

Dennis Lillee: I did.

Ian Chappell: Good job, Dennis.

Next. "The break-in at the Watergate hotel made us wonder: if the institution of the president is not sacred, then what of sport? We're not in the right mental spaces. We have to work on our process…."

Greg, I'm sorry, I think I forgot to mention the note had to be in f***** English.

Moving on. Who wrote: "Derek. Effing. Underwood. Bounce the f***** at The Oval. Eliminate the threat"

Marsh: I did.

Ian Chappell: Well done, Marshy. Dougie, where's yours?

Walters: Here you go.

Ian Chappell: This is a cigarette. If this is a "Lighten up, skip" joke, it's not working.

Walters: No. I wrote it on the cigarette paper. Light it, take a drag, and read the "smoke signals".

Ian Chappell: That is funny, but you're not scoring runs, so I'm dropping you from the next Test.

Walters: Fair enough.

Ian Chappell: Next?

John Inverarity: Can I read mine, Ian?

Ian Chappell: Go ahead.

Inverarity: Firstly, we need a strong team ethic…

Lillee: Are you saying we're cheaters?

Inverarity: .... we must also put the team's needs before our own individual ones.

Lillee: Like how I didn't chug down those 11 beers at lunch so we could have one each now…

Inverarity: And we should rotate our fast bowlers every match so they don't get burned out.

There is silence except for racking coughs from Walters

Lillee: (slowly and deliberately) Are you saying I should rest out a match?

Marsh: What a load of crock! Next you'll say keepers should be picked for their batting.

Inverarity: I'm sorry, but that is the future.

Lillee: I'm going to rotate you like a portion of blame in a cabinet meeting! (Leaps across the room and grabs Inverarity by the neck)

Eventually after several black eyes and bloody noses, the fighting stops and everyone leaves

Marsh: (sarcastically) Good ***** job, Ian. This should help us win at The Oval.

Ian Chappell: It will.

Marsh: Oh yeah? What "team ethic" did you manage to build?

Ian Chappell: Screw team ethic. I got Lillee mad… and insecure. Need anything better?

Inverarity: (clearing throat and rubbing his wounds) You mean I did.

Ian Chappell: Yes, you *****. I thought he'd lose his rag at the "team ethic" bit. He didn't, so good improvising with that rotation crap.

Inverarity: Er…

Marsh: Yeah, good one - "rotate our fast bowlers". And then? Get them to share their feelings of rage with psychologists? Do skinfold tests to measure fitness?

Inverarity: Well…

Chappell and Marsh walk out of the dressing room laughing, with a couple of beers, leaving Inverarity staring at the pile of notes, which are all blank except his own.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • senthil on March 19, 2013, 19:03 GMT

    Absolute gem, Samantha. Hilarious and spectacular narrative. For all you know, it could have really happened.

  • Pankaj on March 19, 2013, 4:24 GMT

    The good thing is that Watson played in the 1972 Oval test and he is back now for 4th test.

  • John on March 18, 2013, 15:42 GMT

    Nice one- and close enough to the truth to hurt a bit. Chappelli had one of the great attacks of all time and yet the Aussies fell apart in a few years. By 1977 they were done, beaten 3-0 by England before WSC changed the face of cricket.

    It took 10 years hard labour by AB, followed by the great captains Taylor and Waugh, to build the Aussie juggernaut of the 90s/00s. The lack of discipline installed by Chappelli was a huge burden for the Aussies to overcome.

  • Suman on March 18, 2013, 14:36 GMT

    Super creativity and imagination. Awesome work.

  • arish on March 18, 2013, 14:23 GMT

    this is a classic Samantha ... good to find a lady who appreciates real men ... and yes i checked the scorecard .. Lillie took 10 wickets in the next match .. and Australia won

  • Dummy4 on March 18, 2013, 13:53 GMT

    Thouroughly enjoyed.. awesome imaginative writing..

  • Kalpesh on March 18, 2013, 8:28 GMT

    haha, thoroughly enjoyed this, good one, this looks straight out of the books of one S K Warne.