Martin Devlin: Australian cricket hasn't changed much since the underarm delivery

Author
Martin Devlin,
Publish Date
Fri, 29 Jan 2021, 2:06PM

Martin Devlin: Australian cricket hasn't changed much since the underarm delivery

Author
Martin Devlin,
Publish Date
Fri, 29 Jan 2021, 2:06PM

This Monday marks the 40th anniversary of the Underarm.

One word, one gesture that since Feb 1st 1981 has encapsulated everything we consider downright dirty and dastardly in sport.

At the time, and do remember this was when there was only two TV channels and games like this were watched by almost the whole country, it was just outrageous. Bowling the last ball underarm was something never before seen in international cricket. The sheer audacity of them willing to do anything to win, to be so blatantly unsporting, came as a complete shock to us all. Who would even stoop that low?

We were flabbergasted  at first. Then anger soon followed. And do remember it wasn't actually against the rules, but more anti the spirit of the game. Even the then PM Rob Muldoon got involved saying the colour of their strip matched the courage  in their hearts. It was dirty pool on a level we couldn't quite believe. An incident that  rocked us, shocked us and has stayed with us ever since!

Although, admittedly, forty years later I don't really hate them for it like I used to do. On reflection it was probably the best thing that happened to the sport here because it galvanised the country, gave us something we could all share together - a united hatred for those lowdown turdy rats from across the Tasman! Here it was a major deal but over there, they got over it quicker than the time it took the man facing, Brian McKechnie, to toss his  bat in disgust.

The difference between our countries two sporting psyches never more ably demonstrated. We tend to think we're above such skullduggery while they simply shrug and act like it's all part of the game. The sandpaper sham in South Africa and the sledging against India recently both ably demonstrating that, decades later, their attitude hasn't and won't ever change.