Ashes 1972: Ian and Greg Chappell ton up together at The Oval

Ian Chappell (left) and brother Greg © Getty Images

On August 12, 1972, Ian Chappell and Greg Chappell became the first brothers to hit centuries in the same innings. Sarang Bhalerao revisits the unique instance at The Oval watched by the cricketing world for the very first time.
For the final Test match of the Ashes 1972, Australia arrived at The Oval pained. The previous Test match at Leeds was labelled as “Fusarium Test” because the pitch had been infected by a fungus. Australia looked at it as a deliberate ploy to benefit the hosts. Derek Underwood ran through the Australian batting line up, picking up 10 wickets in the match. With a 2-1 lead, England had retained the Ashes going into the final Test.

Australia dropped Doug Walters before the Test match, making it the first instance in 95 years that the kangaroos entered the field without a New South Welshman. England batted first and scored 284 from 181 for eight mainly due to Alan Knott’s attacking 92. Dennis Lillee took five for 58 and was by far the best bowler on the show.

Australia lost Graham Watson and Keith Stackpole early. With the score reading 34 for two, Greg Chappell joined his captain and brother Ian. The capacity crowd of 28,000 were treated to an exhibition of batting by the Chappell brothers on the Friday afternoon. Ian was playing cautiously while Greg was going for his shots. Greg had hit a classy 131 in the second Test at Lord’s. At The Oval he was timing the ball well and was a delight to the eye. Ian too looked comfortable and the duo was well set.

The Chappell brothers were matching shot per shot. The England bowlers — Geoff Arnold, John Snow, Tony Greig, Basil D’Oliveira and the spinning duo of Ray Illingworth and Underwood — looked quizzical. Greg brought up his century first. He was however dismissed trying to hit the short ball from Illingworth too soon. He was caught at mid-on by tall Greig. Greg’s 113, in just over four hours, was laced with 17 boundaries and the 201-run stand between the brothers put Australia in total command.

Before the end of Day Two, Ian brought up his century thus making it the first instance of brothers scoring a century in the same innings of a Test match. He was unbeaten at 107 when the second day’s play ended. Australia trailed England by 10 runs and had seven wickets in hand.

Ian was eventually dismissed for 118 on Day Three. England bowlers Arnold and Snow bowled bouncers to Ian until the Australian captain fell for the trap for the fourth time in the series trying to uppishly hook the short ball. His five and a half hours of stubborn batting ended as a mistimed hook was well caught at long-leg by Snow off Arnold’s bowling. His 118 included 20 boundaries.

What followed

  • Australia took a 115-run lead and dismissed England for 356 in the second innings with Dennis Lillee recording a 10-wicket haul in the Test
  • Australia chased down the target of 242 losing five wickets, thus levelling the series 2-2.

In 1974, the Chappell brothers scored hundreds in each innings against New Zealand at Wellington — a record which is unmatched even today.

Brief scores:

England 284 (Alan Knott 92, Peter Parfitt 51; Dennis Lillee 5 for 58) and 356 (Barry Wood 90, Alan Knott 63; Dennis Lillee 5 for 123) lost to Australia 399 (Ian Chappell 118, Greg Chappell 113; Derek Underwood 4 for 90) and 242 for 5 (Keith Stackpole 79; Derek Underwood 2 for 49) by 5 wickets.

(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)