Ex top cricketer McKechnie bowls underarm

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 15/01/2013
Former New Zealand cricketer Brian McKechnie at the Elmwood Bowling Club
IAIN McGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

LOW DELIVERY: Former New Zealand cricketer Brian McKechnie, who faced Australia’s history-making underarm bowl in 1981, refines his own delivery at the Elmwood Bowling Club.

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More than 30 years after the infamous underarm bowl incident, former New Zealand cricketer Brian McKechnie is making the ground grubber his preferred delivery. McKechnie spends Monday evenings practising his own underarm swing at Christchurch's Elmwood Bowling Club.

Back on the green for his first session of the year yesterday, McKechnie denied suggestions he had taken tips from Trevor Chappell, though he reckons he bowls just as accurately as his Australian adversary did in 1981.

"I reckon I'd be competitive against him. These things curve a wee bit."

McKechnie, 59, has been playing with the social Monday group, which includes former All Blacks Gary Seear and Tane Norton, for the past three years.

An "Arse Not Class Trophy" is awarded to the best bowler each week. "We turn up at 5 o'clock and play for a couple of hours. It's still a competitive sort of a game."

McKechnie said he never blamed Chappell for the 1981 incident, and the pair had stayed in touch.

However, he had been to only one function since with the bowler's older brother and then-Australian captain, Greg Chappell, who ordered the history-making delivery.

"I feel sorry for Trevor in a way. He's the poor guy everyone remembers, yet he was just acting under instructions.

"The only thing I could think of was I'm not going to get out."

The incident took place during a one-day international cricket match in Melbourne on February 1, 1981. New Zealand needed to score six runs from the final ball to tie the game.

Australia won but was booed off the field after McKechnie blocked the delivery, then threw his bat in frustration.

McKechnie said it took 30 years before journalists stopped calling him on the anniversary.

"Everyone thought it would be over in a couple of days. What he [Chappell] did was perfectly legal but just the spirit of the game in those days. What it's done has created some rivalry between Australia and New Zealand in sports. When we feel aggrieved, it comes out."

"It actually created a lot of interest in cricket, believe it or not."

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