Must-see relic

When Trevor Chappell bowled underarm to New Zealand batsman Brian McKechnie to ensure he could not hit a six to tie a one-day match in 1981, commentator Richie Benaud called it one of the worst things he had seen on a cricket field.

New Zealand prime minister Robert Muldoon called it “an act of cowardice” and Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser said it was “contrary to the traditions of the game”.

So how did that ball end up in a Perth museum?

Australia scored 4/235 off 50 overs in the third one-day final of the summer at the MCG and, with one over left, the Kiwis needed 15 to win.

After lusty blows from Richard Hadlee and Ian Smith, New Zealand needed six runs off the last ball to tie when Australian captain Greg Chappell ordered his brother Trevor to bowl underarm and told WA umpire Don Weser, who was at the bowler’s end, of his decision.

“I think Brian (McKechnie) almost dropped his bat when I told him, ” Weser said.

“Anyway, Trevor bowled a beautiful delivery all the way along the ground from stump to stump.

“As a lawn bowler myself these days, I rate it highly.”

McKechnie defended the ball to the off side and threw his bat away in disgust.

As the players left the field, Weser collected the ball and put it in his pocket. In the change rooms, he threw the ball into his cricket kit where it stayed for his journey home to Perth.

Years later and after some thought, he donated the ball to the WACA Museum in East Perth.

It now sits in a glass cabinet, mounted and alongside a statutory declaration from Weser attesting to the ball’s bona fides.

Curator Steve Hall said the ball was still one of the most popular exhibits in the museum.

“People from all over the cricketing world know the story and want to see the ball — even though it happened more than 30 years ago, ” he said.

The WACA Museum is open 10am to 3pm on weekdays.


© The West Australian

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