The Chappell brothers were friendly towards each other off the field, but on it they did not spare each other an inch @Getty Images
The Chappell brothers were friendly towards each other off the field, but on it they did not spare each other an inch @Getty Images

Both Ian and Greg Chappell believed in sledging (or ‘mental disintegration’, as they refer to it these days). However, when pitted against each other, they never shied away from having a go at each other, as The Gabba witnessed on November 18, 1973. Abhishek Mukherjee recalls a family war of sledges.

The Chappell brothers probably inherited their combative genes from Vic Richardson, a man who fought a lifelong battle against Don Bradman and called Douglas Jardine a bastard on his face.

The inter-sibling rivalry was evident from childhood. Jeanne, daughter of Richardson and mother of the brothers, often umpired in the backyard matches. The decisions often went in favour of Greg, five years younger. So, Ian retorted with bouncers. When a gloveless Greg was once hit on his bare fingers, an unapologetic Ian blurted out: “Don’t worry about your fingers, mate, next time it’ll be your head.”

In a few years Greg dished out a similar treatment to Trevor. Ian often took Trevor’s side. However, he once convinced Trevor that he would not bounce at him; an unsuspecting gloveless Trevor was soon hit on the knuckles.

But then, Ian and Greg thrived off each other as well. When they played in the same Test, Ian averaged 47.42 and Greg 57.79; when they did not, Ian’s number dropped to 35.31 and Greg’s to 50.49. And at Wellington in 1973-74 Ian (145 and 121) and Greg (247* and 133) became the first pair of teammates to score two hundreds in the same Test.

Greg moved to Brisbane after acting as vice-captain of South Australia (SA) under Ian till 1972-73. He was named Queensland captain. He was up against Ian’s SA at Brisbane shortly afterwards; also accompanying the SA side was Trevor.

SA were quickly undone for 224 on Day One by the left-arm seam of Geoff Dymock and the leg-breaks of former Ceylon cricketer Malcolm Francke — of whom Ian would later say “I can’t really see him bowling out Test batsmen”. Ian top-scored with 70 while Trevor got 16.

Sam Trimble (147) and Ian Seib (45) added 87. Queensland lost Majid Khan early, but Greg got 56, and Phil Carlson remained unbeaten on a quick 103 as Greg declared on exactly 400.

The near-forgotten Tony Dell now came to the fray. Dell had taken 2 for 32 and 3 for 65 on Test debut two years back and had not played since then. Now he dismissed both SA openers quickly. Dymock took out Trevor, and the score read 9 for 3.

The stage was set for Ian, who played one of his numerous masterpieces against all odds. SA became 83 for 5 and then 181 for 8, but Ian was determined to stretch the lead. Support came from Barry Hiern, and the scorecard moved along. Ian reached his hundred. They seemed determined.

Greg, bowling for the first time in the match, had ripped through the SA middle-order. Frustration mounted as Hiern kept fighting stubbornly. Greg, ignoring the unwritten fast-bowlers’ treaty of not bouncing at tail-enders, unleashed a few at Hiern.

Ian was not amused. He confronted his brother: “Listen, pal, if you are going to bowl bouncers, bowl them to me.”

This did not go down very well with Greg, who swore at him before dishing out a piece of advice: “You’d be better served to concentrate on your batting.”

Ian, however, did have the last laugh: “If you have a look at the scoreboard, Greg, you’ll notice I am concentrating on my batting.”

Ian got 126 in the end, adding 46 with Hiern who scored 24. Greg did not get another wicket, but Queensland won comfortably by 9 wickets.

Brief scores:

South Australia 224 (Ian Chappell 70, John Donaldson 43; Geoff Dymock 4 for 59, Malcolm Francke 3 for 48) and 247 (Ian Chappell 126, Terry Jenner 43; Greg Chappell 4 for 47) lost to Queensland 400 for 5 decl. (Sam Trimble 147, Ian Seib 45, Greg Chappell 56, Phil Carlson 103*) and 72 for 1 by 9 wickets.