Cricketers pick their favourites

'He used every ounce of his mental strength'

Part five: Ian Chappell on the best centuries he has watched. No. 5: Greg Chappell's fighting innings on a tricky Lord's pitch (00:00)

Producer: Ranjit Shinde

August 14, 2012


Greg Chappell, 131 v England, Lord's

'He used every ounce of his mental strength'

August 14, 2012

Greg Chappell
131 v England, Lord's, 1972

Greg Chappell drives a delivery from John Snow down the groundA, England v Australia, 2nd Test, Lord's 2nd day, June 23, 1972
Greg Chappell considered his century at Lord's his best innings © PA Photos

The 1972 Australian side that went to England was labelled by the English press as the worst Australian team to ever reach English shores. Obviously, as captain, I did not agree with that.

We lost the first Test at Old Trafford on a pitch that seamed around an awful lot. We lost by about 90-odd runs. So it was a situation where we needed to bounce back pretty quickly, because Australia, at that point, hadn't won a Test match for about 11 Tests. I think there had been a few draws but no victories. So we badly needed a Test victory.

We went to Lord's, and it's known as Massie's match - Bob Massie, on debut: 16 wickets. Incredible debut - eight wickets in each innings. But the contribution of Greg Chappell should never be forgotten.

Greg has described his 131 at Lord's as his best-ever innings. I was down at the other end for quite a bit of it. We had bowled England out reasonably cheaply but we were in deep trouble early. We were 7 for 2 early on - [Bruce] Francis out quickly and then [Keith] Stackpole. So Greg and I were in together.

I am not sure how long he batted for, but it was a long time. His concentration… I think the thing that stood out with Greg's batting - he wasn't the best batsman of his era, but certainly he was the best mentally organised batsman of his era. Great mental strength. On this occasion he used every ounce of that mental strength. His concentration was impeccable. He battled really hard early on.

It was a pitch that was doing a little bit off the seam. Massie had swung the ball, but the English bowlers weren't so much swing bowlers. John Snow was more "bang it into the pitch and get movement off the pitch". It was one of those pitches where something was happening the whole time. You never ever felt like you were in, even if you were 50 or 60, you never felt like you were totally secure. You just couldn't let up for one second. And that's how Greg batted. He just concentrated.

It certainly wasn't his most flamboyant knock, and it wasn't his most stroke-filled knock, but I think the reason Greg ranked it so high was because technically it was brilliant, but also mentally. There was great mental strength there. And Greg was, and still is - whenever he talks about batting, he talks so much about the strength of the mind, and that was one of his great strengths. And you never saw a better example of it than his 131 at Lord's.

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