Packed House For Southland Sporting Legend

Thirty-eight years after one of the most infamous sporting moments in New Zealand history, one of the men involved still can’t believe it is as topical today as it was then.

Brian McKechnie, the man who faced the infamous underarm delivery from Australia’s Trevor Chappell in 1981, said discussion around the incident seemed to have died down for a while but has recently come back into discussion after a documentary aired on Prime earlier this year.

McKechnie was in town on Friday night to help open the New Zealand Cricket Museum at Bill Richardson’s Transport World in Invercargill, where it will be temporarily housed for eight months while its home in Wellington undergoes renovations.

A packed house of sporting fans listened to the Southland sporting legend reminisce for well over an hour about his amazing career that saw him play for New Zealand in both cricket and rugby, an honour that labels him as one of only seven ‘double All Blacks’ in history.

Speaking to The Southland App/Advocate South, McKechnie said there were some positives to come out of the infamous underarm incident.

“I don’t think it was beneficial at the time but if you forget about the underarm incident it’s created a lot of interest in cricket when it happened and then it’s created this great little rivalry between Australia and New Zealand. It’s a bit like Wales and England in rugby type of thing. It’s not just cricket now, it’s in rugby, it’s women’s cricket, it’s netball and all these sorts of things. It’s created that sort of rivalry.”

The infamous match in 1981 saw Australian captain Greg Chappell order his brother Trevor to bowl an underarm delivery on the final ball of the match against New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to prevent McKechnie scoring the required six needed for them to win the match.

McKechnie famously threw his bat away in disgust after blocking the delivery, and it would be the last ever delivery he would face for New Zealand as he failed to make the team again after that match.

And despite 38 years having passed since the match and everything that has followed since, McKechnie says he still feels sorry for Trevor Chappell the most.

“I just don’t think for his life it was great at all. I’ve done a number of functions with him and while we never talked about it, you can just tell that the impact on him is a lot greater probably than on Greg. He was a young guy, the third of the Chappels trying to make his way and all of a sudden he’s got that.”

McKechnie believes it will be forever talked about in the future.

“At the end of the day I wish the incident never happened and, while they won’t say it, I still to this day believe that Greg and Trevor probably wish it never happened either because they’ve had to live with it for 38 years as well and it’ll probably still go on after we’ve passed on.”

The museum is expected to stay in Invercargill until October and McKechnie said it was a great honour for it to be held in his native Southland.

“I think it’s brilliant that they’ve brought it down here. This museum here is a wonderful facility in its own right, to bring it down here I don’t think you could put it anywhere else. I think it’ll be great for the public down here and it’ll get a great display down here. They’ll look after it brilliantly and I think it’s as good as place as you could put it given the facility they have here.”

This article was originally written for The Advocate. You can read the published version here

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