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Bobby's day out

Forty-odd years ago, Australia went into a Lord's Test as underdogs, one down in the series, and came out smelling of roses

Nagraj Gollapudi

July 18, 2013

Comments: 11 | Text size: A | A

Bob Massie is clapped off the field by his team-mates after he tool 16 for 137, England v Australia, second Test, Lord's, June 23 1972
Massie is cheered off the ground by his team-mates on day two © The Cricketer International
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The similarities between Ian Chappell's Australians who toured England in 1972, and the current team led by Michael Clarke are many. Like Clarke's team, Chappell's was labelled the worst to enter an Ashes contest. As in 2013, Australia lost the first Test before arriving at Lord's for the second. And as in 2013, the Queen was scheduled to visit at the end of the final day at Lord's to meet the teams. Only, she didn't have the chance, because Australia marched to victory early on the final morning, on the back of a memorable performance by the debutant fast bowler Bob Massie and a glorious century from Greg Chappell.

Australia had not won in 12 Test matches going to Lord's. They had not beaten England since Old Trafford in 1968*. The English media were highly critical, spurring the Australian manager, the late Ray Steele, normally a quiet man, to give a fiery motivating speech at the team dinner on the eve of the Test. Particularly infuriated by one headline, "Aussies take loss lying down", Steele said: "Pig's bloody arse we did!"

Greg Chappell We had lost the first Test match, so we were already on the back foot, not expected to do well on the tour. The conditions were perfect for England, completely different from the conditions we had grown up playing cricket in. It was cold, it was overcast, the ball was seaming around, and they just outbowled and outbatted us at Old Trafford.

The home media, as anywhere else, rubbed it in. There were headlines all over the place. Ray read the situation pretty well: we were a young team and probably a bit vulnerable. It was almost a rallying call, where he said, "Come on guys, it is a long way from being over."

Ray Illingworth won his seventh toss in a row and elected to bat on a pitch he thought was brown. Massie, the Western Australia fast bowler, was making his debut and would share the new ball with his state mate Dennis Lillee. England did not know Massie, but by the end of the day he would be on the honours board.

Massie It was overcast and a bit heavy, which generally helps with swing bowling. There were a few nerves. Even if I had played three games against Rest of the World in 1971, this was my first official international match for Australia. And it was at Lord's, so you are little bit strung up before you get a wicket and get into it. Most of the England batsmen did not have much experience of playing against me, though Geoff Boycott and Brian Luckhurst had got centuries in the match I had played in Perth between Western Australia and the MCC touring side in 1971.

After about an hour I broke through Boycott's defence - my first Test wicket. He played around and over the ball. Then I got rid of Basil D'Oliveira. I had bowled some outswingers to begin with before I got an inswinger to trap him lbw. Mike Smith missed a full toss, trying to hit too square, and was bowled.

England were 97 for 5, wounded by the pace of Lillee and the swing of Massie. Then Ian Chappell took Massie off, and threw the ball to his brother, raising eyebrows. Tony Greig and Alan Knott made use of the opportunity to rebuild the innings

Massie I bowled a 20-over spell, taking a break only during lunch. Then I began to cramp, so I had to take a break. I had come into the match after a three-and-a-half week break and had only played two games before the Test. I had torn a muscle in my ribcage, so I was light on match conditioning.

Massie was back later in the day to snatch the controls back Massie I had not bowled a short one the whole day, but this one I deliberately banged in, and [Alan] Knott guided it straight to gully and was caught by David Colley. Tony Greig slashed at a delivery well outside off stump, way away from his body, did not move his feet, got an inside edge and was caught behind. Friday morning I had Illingworth lbw, then bowled [John] Snow with a outswinging yorker. Norman Gifford slashed outside off stump and was caught at the wicket.

Greg Chappell After he'd taken a couple of wickets, he told Ian he'd had enough, but Ian said, "Come on, mate, you're not going to get conditions like this too often." It was just as well he urged Massie on. England scored 272, but Massie's 8 for 84 changed the whole dynamic of the series.

Australia's top order failed. At 84 for 4, England were on top, but the dangerous Greg Chappell stuck around and completed a memorable century

Greg Chappell When I went in to bat, I wanted to just build a partnership. At the beginning Ian had started to get a bit of roll on, so I was looking to just support him, till he was caught near to the boundary in front of the open stand by Mike Smith as he tried hooking Snowy. From that point my thinking was to get as close to England as we could. We built a couple of partnerships - initially with Ross Edwards and later with Rodney Marsh.

Conditions were fairly trying, but luckily I had played county cricket, so I had experienced conditions like that before. I just worked hard on playing each ball on its merit. The only mistake I made was on the ball I got out: to D'Oliveira - I tried to hit it too hard and played it back onto the stumps.

Mentally and physically it was a more complete innings because the conditions in the first two Tests were some of the most challenging I had encountered.

I went about setting myself small targets and giving myself a mental pat on the back for achieving one goal, and then set the next. I had found the previous season in Australia that the most important part of batting was the mental side, and having a routine that kept me focused on playing one ball at a time. At lunch, I didn't eat with the team. I asked for my food to be brought to the dressing room. I was in my own bubble, shutting out the hullabaloo of a Lord's Test.

Australia had a 36-run lead after Rod Marsh, who had scored a belligerent 91 in the second innings at Old Trafford, provided the ballast in the final stages. Greg Chappell He took it to the spinners, which helped us get the small lead, which was a crucial part of our innings.

They went in with two spinners, which I thought under the circumstances was a mistake. They needed one more seam bowler in those conditions. Gifford was probably surplus to requirements. [John] Price was playing at his home ground, and he was a serviceable bowler. Greig and D'Oliveira performed the role of the third seamer.

Australia were favourites once Massie took eight wickets for the second time in the match. Only Jim Laker (19 for 90 in 1957) and SF Barnes (17 for 179 in 1913) had ever taken more wickets in a Test match than Massie's 16 till then.

Dennis Lillee (in Back to the Mark, as told to Ian Brayshaw) Bob bamboozled the England batsmen with an immaculate display of swing bowling. I remember looking up at the scoreboard on one occasion during the second innings, when England were 5 for 31, and scratching my head in wonderment that it could be true.

Massie I was a lot more relaxed. Lord's was jam-packed. The gates were closed. As we were walking out, Dennis came up and said, "Come on, mate. We got to knock off one of these openers before they pass us."

Immediately he had Boycott bowled after the ball bounced off his hip onto his shoulder before rolling back on to stumps. Then Dennis got Brian Luckhurst out before I got John Edrich and D'Oliveira.

The Edrich wicket was very important. I had planned to go around the wicket because he was so good at leaving the ball. I thought if I could get an inswinger at his off stump going away, it might just make it harder for him to judge the line, and that is how I got him.

I decided to stick to bowling around the stumps to the right-handers, thinking to keep them in doubt instead of me chopping and changing.

For just the atmosphere and the exhilaration, I would pick the eight-wicket haul in the second innings as a bit more thrilling and exciting.


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: in his own bubble at Lord's © PA Photos
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Illingworth Massie got wickets in the first innings with normal conventional swing. In the second he went round the corner and was quick.

I was caught in the slips by Keith Stackpole. The ball hit him in the chest first before he caught it - it was so fast.

Dennis Lillee bowled from the pavilion end and kept pitching on the stumps up the hill and missed everything. He bowled as well as Massie, but we did not touch anything, although we were beaten by his pace and seam movement.

The teams ended up going to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen

Greg Chappell The Queen was meant to come to Lord's on that final day, but we finished early, so we ended up going to Buckingham Palace. As we lined up, Dennis pulled out a little autograph book and asked the Queen for an autograph. The protocol people stepped in and said the Queen does not sign autographs. But she arranged to have a photograph signed and delivered to Dennis. She was very pleasant, welcoming us and wishing us well for the rest of the tour.

We finished the series two-all after going into the final Test 2-1 down. So to come away with a victory there and level the series was as good as a win for us.

The Lord's Test match was a turning point for Australian cricket at that stage. It really was the moment we started to believe in ourselves and think we were good enough to mix it with anyone.

*11:53:32 GMT, 18 July 2013: The article originally said 1967 instead of 1968

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Bonehead_maz on (July 23, 2013, 3:33 GMT)

lol .... well in that case how about Laker being in 1956 ?

Posted by Headbandenator on (July 19, 2013, 7:19 GMT)

"MaxB - the article says 1968........ "

In MaxB's defence, it does *now*. Here's a clue.

*11:53:32 GMT, 18 July 2013: The article originally said 1967 instead of 1968

Posted by liz1558 on (July 18, 2013, 12:51 GMT)

Superficial similarities, both with '72 and '89 - Rob Steen's preferred year for comparison before the series started. Neither year is as good a match as 1985. That Australia side truly was the worst to tour England. Wood, Hilditch, Ritchie, Phillips, Murray Bennett, Gilbert. It's very rarely spoken about, perhaps because the England side was pretty mediocre too - the series slotted in between two 5-0 blackwashes. England may be different in the series, but the current Ausie side looks as bad as the 85 lot.

Posted by   on (July 18, 2013, 10:43 GMT)

MaxB - the article says 1968........

Posted by runout49 on (July 18, 2013, 9:12 GMT)

I was at that test and an on drive by Greg Chappell up to the members still sticks in my memory. Peerless !

Posted by   on (July 18, 2013, 9:00 GMT)

All these articles to try and draw similarities between now and 1972 and 1989 but in reality, there are very few genuine similarities. For one thing, looking out of my window, there's going to be no overcast conditions to help swing bowling....

Posted by MaxB on (July 18, 2013, 7:15 GMT)

"They had not beaten England since Old Trafford in 1967". That was clever of them, since India and Pakistan were the 1967 tourists, and no Old Trafford Test was played that year.

I think you mean 1968...

Posted by srikanths on (July 18, 2013, 7:02 GMT)

OZ bowling even the current one is good.Unfortunately Starc didn't do well in ist test. With a fit Pattinson and Starc getting back his in dippers plus ever reliable siddle they can still turn it on very well. Let us see in 2 nd test

Posted by Rowayton on (July 18, 2013, 5:22 GMT)

Massie got 16 wickets but it was Greg Chappell's batting that won that game. And incidentally while it was Massie's first official test, it wasn't his first 'Test'. He'd played for Australia v Rest of the World in games that then had dubious status.

Posted by Hammond on (July 18, 2013, 5:05 GMT)

If we had anyone as good as Massie, this would be pertinent. But we don't.

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