SYDNEY (Reuters) - Trevor Chappell is possibly the only Australian cricketer past or present to have found a positive in the ball-tampering scandal that has engulfed the country, relieving him of an unwanted notoriety he assumed 37 years ago.
With one ball remaining in the third one-day final of the 1981 World Series Cup and New Zealand needing six runs to tie, Chappell was instructed by his brother and Australian captain Greg to bowl underarm.
Trevor rolled the ball along the pitch to prevent Kiwi tail-ender Brian Mckechnie clearing the fence about 90 metres away.
“I thought it was a good idea to underarm bowl at the time but not these days,” Trevor told Daily Telegraph. “I struggled a lot with it mentally. I was vilified for years and people will still ask about it.”
The incident was marked as the biggest scar on the reputation of Australian cricket and Trevor said it had taken a mental toll on him and cost him his marriage.
“I don’t know if my brothers have done better in life than me after what happened. Greg copped it at the time, but the quiet life certainly chose me after that,” the 65-year-old said.
“My marriage broke down and I never remarried or had kids. These days all I do is coach cricket to kids and play golf.”
In the wake of the recent ball-tampering controversy in the third test against South Africa in Cape Town, he said skipper Steve Smith, vice captain David Warner and Cameron Bancroft may have to deal with the consequences for the rest of the lives.
“They’ll have to live with what they’ve done forever. Whether it haunts them for the rest of their lives is down to them but I haven’t been able to shake off what happened to me in 37 years,” Trevor said.
“What I did has lived with me ever since and it will be the same for Smith and Bancroft.
“They will struggle for the rest of their lives and be known as the ones who brought Australian cricket into disrepute.”
But Trevor admitted he was pleased to no longer be the main villain in the history of Australian cricket.
“I’m the one who comes up on Google as the man who took the lead role in Australian cricket’s darkest day — it’s a real relief I can finally drop that title,” he added.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien