Ian Chappell says Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket changed the game forever

Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer used to love talking about sport, Ian Chappell revealed Getty Images

By CricketCountry Staff

Sydney: Aug 20, 2012

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell says Kerry Packer s revolutionary World Series Cricket changed the face of the gentlemen s game forever.

Chappell wrote in his column, “Players wore coloured pyjamas, innings were over in a flash and the whole country was singing ‘C’mon Aussie, c’mon’. Welcome to World Series Cricket, a revolution that changed the way the gentleman’s game played forever.”

Recalling his first meeting with Packer, Chappell recalled how the Australian media tycoon wanted things to be in his cricket league.

“At our first meeting, Kerry Packer asked me who I wanted in the World Series Cricket team. When I replied I was no longer the Australian captain, he quickly established the ground rules for his breakaway group of cricketers.

‘What do you think this is, a bloody democracy? he exploded. ‘I pay the bills, I pick the captain. You’re the adjectival captain. Although it was our first meeting, it wasn’t the opening exchange in his Park St office,” Chappell wrote in his column for the Herald Sun.

“There are two other things I remember about our first meeting. In response to his query about who I wanted in the team, I said the obvious name missing from the list was off-spinner Ashley Mallett,” he recalled.

Chappell continued, “I’m not paying that bloody straight breaker, Kerry exploded. In the end we reached a rare compromise; I asked Kerry if he would contract Mallett if the off-spinner dismissed him inside one over.

He reluctantly agreed, but spoke to his secretary and asked her to book him an indoor net so he could practise his batting.”

“Packer eventually signed Mallett, but he never faced his bowling,” Chappell revealed.

Chappell said the founder of the World Series Cricket, Packer, was a proud man and had a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve.

“Kerry was an extremely competitive individual and a proud man. He took great pride in his television network and demanded a high standard of work,” he wrote.

Recalling Packer s love towards sports, Chappell wrote, “He told me at that first meeting: ‘The Yanks came out here to see our (Channel 9) coverage of the Australian Open golf tournament.

For the first time anywhere, we covered all 18 holes and they went back home and started doing the same. I want other television companies to copy our coverage of the cricket.”

He added, “He got his wish. I worked on a couple of Ashes series with the BBC, and their director Keith McKenzie told me how he visited Australia during the summer and took back home ideas he’d gleaned from the Nine coverage. Kerry loved sport, but he was passionate about cricket and rugby league.”

“He used to love talking about sport, and he was never short of a theory on how a game could be improved.”

Chappell added: “‘Australia should pick 11 batsman (in the one day international side), he once told me. ‘They can easily find five or six batsmen who can bowl, and they’ll make so many runs they’ll rarely be beaten’.”

‘Who’s going to keep? I asked. ‘Somebody like (Allan) Border can do that, he contended.”

‘But he’s the best batsman, I argued, ‘and he’ll probably break a finger. This animated discussion, like a number of others we had, was never resolved,” Chappell revealed.

Talking about the standard of cricket in the WSC, Chappell wrote, “The standard of play during WSC was the highest I ever experienced; three of the most fiery bowling attacks ever gathered in one place meant there was very little peace, even though some of the best batsmen of that time were on display.”

“I’m not sure actors will be able to capture the intensity and skill of those contests. And then there was the electric atmosphere of the first day/night game at a traditional cricket ground,” he said.

Chappell said Packer wanted to take the game to the fans in a different manner.

“The SCG crowd had swelled so quickly that in the dinner break Kerry and some of his staff manned the gates and let the public in so that they didn’t miss any play,” he wrote.

“As we walked on to the ground for the afternoon session, the crowd was singing Come on Aussie, Come on and Rodney Marsh said to me: ‘We’re back ,” he added.

Chappell concluded, “From that revolution came day/night cricket, much improved television coverage and more skilful marketing of the game and the players. These are just a few of the more important improvements that came as a direct result of the stand the players took in the late ’70s.”