5 Controversies of the 1900s which Changed Cricket Forever

Often called the Gentlemen's Game, Cricket has seen enough controversies for one to question the validity of the expression.

Within the first week of IPL, the media went buzzing with Ashwin-Buttler mankading. The incident had marginally faded and the Malinga No ball incident happened. And very recently, captain cool MS Dhoni, uncharacteristically, stormed down the pitch from the dugout, to argue with the on-field umpires.

While each controversy has its own implications for the individuals involved and sometimes the entire team, the game has witnessed a few controversies which impacted the game itself. Let's take a look at the controversies of the past century which changed cricket forever!

#5 The Underarm 'Cry for help'

The Infamous Underarm delivery by Trevor Chappell; Image Credits: Newspix
The Infamous Underarm delivery by Trevor Chappell; Image Credits: Newspix

The Incident

It was February 1, 1981, the third of the five finals of the 1980-81 Benson & Hedges World Series Cup was being played in the MCG between the trans-tasman rivals, Australia and New Zealand. Both teams were tied after winning a final each of the previous two finals.

New Zealand required 15 off the final 6 deliveries. Greg Chappell who was captaining the Australian side gave the final over to his brother, Trevor Chappell.

6 runs were required off the final delivery if New Zealand were to tie the match. To prevent this, Greg instructed his brother to bowl a rolling underarm delivery, to which Trevor obliged.

Nothing was scored on the ball. The New Zealand batsman on-strike, Brian Mckenhie, threw his bat on the ground in anger and disgust. Australia won the match by 6 runs.

The Impact

The incident immediately led to the ban of underarm bowling in limited-overs cricket as "not within the spirit of the game". Now, law 21.1.2 considers an underarm delivery a no ball and states:

Underarm bowling shall not be permitted except by special agreement before the match.

Years later in a documentary, Greg Chappell called it a "cry for help" to the Australian Cricket Board to take notice of the amount of cricket the team was playing and the toll it's taking on the players physically, and more importantly, mentally.

#4 Bodyline Series - 1932-33 Ashes

Bodyline Series - 1932-33; Image Credits: Cricinfo
Bodyline Series - 1932-33; Image Credits: Cricinfo

The Incident

In the 1932-33 Ashes, England had quite a few challenges to overcome down under if they were to reclaim the Ashes. And the biggest of them all was the greatest batsman to have ever graced the sport, Sir Donald Bradman.

But, this time England had a plan, and though, it was not within the spirit of cricket, it was well within the rules of the game at the time.

There were no restrictions on the number of fielders one can place on the leg-side. So, bowling on the legs was a common tactic at the time to curb run scoring. But, England went a step ahead or rather a foot higher and targeted the bodies of the Australian batsmen.

England won the first test without employing the bodyline tactic, but then there was no Bradman. In the second test, Bradman returned and Australia won. Bradman scored an unbeaten hundred in the second innings. The third test in Adelaide witnessed English bowlers intimidating Australian batsmen, leaving a couple of them bruised and battered.

England won the series 4-1 and reclaimed the Ashes.

The Impact

Besides criticism, there was no immediate impact. But, the following summer when a touring West Indies employed the same tactics against England, the authorities took notice.

MCC passed a resolution that "any form of bowling which is obviously a direct attack by the bowler upon the batsman would be an offence against the spirit of the game".

In 1934, MCC added a clause to the Laws relating to unfair play which restricted the number of fielders allowed behind square on the leg to two. And this finally led to the demise of the bodyline tactic.

#3 Umpire vs. The Captain: Shakoor Rana vs. Mike Gatting

Mike Gatting jabbing his fingers at Pakistani umpire Shakoor Rana; Image Credits: Graham Morris
Mike Gatting jabbing his fingers at Pakistani umpire Shakoor Rana; Image Credits: Graham Morris

The Incident

Eddie Hemmings was delivering the final over of Day 2 of the second test match of England's 1987 Tour of Pakistan. On the 4th ball, the square-leg umpire Shakoor Rana yelled "Stop, Stop" and his counterpart, Khizhar Khan declared the ball a dead ball.

English captain Mike Gatting enquired and Rana said: "You're waving your hand. That's cheating." While Hemming was delivering the ball, Gatting waved and asked his long-leg fielder to move a bit back as he came closer than where he wanted him to be.

Rana termed this as an attempt to change the field after the batsman is ready. And was heard saying "You are a f***ing cheat". Gatting responded and went straight up to Rana, and the two exchanged inappropriate remarks.

Day 3's play never started as Rana decided to not resume before Mike Gatting gives him a written apology. The foreign offices of the two nations were involved to reach a solution to the deadlock.

Mike Gatting, eventually handed a written apology right before the start of play on Day 4. The match was drawn and England would end up on the losing side in the series after the third test.

The Impact

The series saw a flurry of wrong and biased umpiring decisions and the cricketing ties between the two nations worsened. England didn't tour Pakistan for the 13 years to come.

More importantly, the incident brought onto centerstage the long overdue discussion of neutral umpires. In 1992, the experiment of one neutral umpire in test cricket was started and was adopted completely in 1994. In 2002, both on-field neutral umpires became mandatory in Test Cricket.

A 2014 study which involved 1000 Test matches played between 1986 and 2012 claimed that with LBWs the perceived bias has disappeared with neutral umpires.

#2 D'Oliveira Affair

Basil D’Oliveira; Image Credits: Wisden
Basil D’Oliveira; Image Credits: Wisden

The Incident

Basil D'Oliveira was a remarkable batting allrounder for the England Team. He hailed from Cape Town, but moved to England, as the South African apartheid rules at the time wouldn't allow him to represent South Africa.

To everyone's surprise, he was not picked initially for England's tour to South Africa in 1968. John Vorster, South African prime minister at the time had declared their acceptance for racially mixed teams in 1967. But, the reality was different.

Under political pressure and lobbying D'Oliveira was kept out of the squad. Though, two weeks later, Tom Cartwright, got injured and D'Oliveira was included in the squad. The tour had to be cancelled eventually as Vorster termed MCC "a team of the Anti-Apartheid Movement" and refused to allow D'Oliveira.

The Impact

A short-term victory for Vorster and Apartheid eventually resulted in a 21-year exile for South Africa from International cricket. At the time of the ban, South African cricket was really thriving, and who knows they might have had a World Cup trophy in their cabinet, if not for apartheid.

D'Oliveira went into history as an anti-apartheid hero. In 2004, it was announced that future Test series between England and South Africa will be for the Basil D'Oliveira trophy.

South Africa v England - Fourth Test: Day Five
South Africa v England - Fourth Test: Day Five

#1 Kerry Packer and World Series Cricket

A still from one of the matches of World Series Cricket; Image Credits: Wisden
A still from one of the matches of World Series Cricket; Image Credits: Wisden

The Incident

Australian Cricket Board (ACB) denied Australian media mogul, Kerry Packer, TV rights in favour of the state broadcaster Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

In May 1977, it was announced that Packer has signed international cricketers around the world and will stage World Series Cricket (WSC) head to head with the 1977-78 Australian cricket calendar.

The battle between ACB and Packer continued for 2 years. While the first season of WSC, didn't give much of a competition, it was in the second season that WSC really started gaining popularity. And the impact was not just limited to ACB's revenues, it started affecting other cricket playing nations as well.

There was a point in time when Packer's cricketing circus had more than four dozen players. Because of more rewards players were defaulting their commitments to their National boards and were playing for Packer. While today's league cricket is supported by national cricketing boards, it was league cricket directly competing with ACB.

On May 30, 1979, Packer and ACB reached a resolution. Packer's Channel Nine got the broadcasting rights and Packer got a 10-year deal to promote and market the game.

The Impact

As much of a headache it was for ACB and then later the ICC, WSC brought in most of what we know about limited overs cricket presently. From coloured clothing to helmets, more ODIs and cricket under floodlights, it was all a result of Packer's passion for popularizing the game.

Think we missed anything? Which one do you think affected the game the most? Let us know in the comments.

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