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.