Sexton, Michael – Chappell’s Last Stand (highly recommended)


South Australia’s come-from-the-clouds 1975-76  season

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Softback showcasing South Australia’s 1975-76 Sheffield Shield triumph under the no-nonsense, inspirational captaincy of Ian Chappell

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1 review for Sexton, Michael – Chappell’s Last Stand (highly recommended)

  1. Ken

    Good cricket books absorb, inform and entertain. They offer fresh vignettes and in the case of Chappell’s Last Stand remind of the passion, purpose and bloody mindedness of one of Australia’s alltime great cricket captains.
    In celebrating a year in the life of Ian Chappell, a season in which South Australia won the Sheffield Shield, Michael Sexton’s interviews provide the fibre and extra presence behind one of the great Christmas books for 2017.
    The gulf between the genuine champions and those who aspire to greatness is an intertwining theme behind SA’s 1975-76 triumph.
    The Chappell brothers were an intimidating presence, Sexton telling how Ian would bait the opposition pacemen, telling them to pitch short to him. ‘Come on, come on… bounce me,’ he’d say. When they did he’d smash them, grin and ask them: ‘I thought you were a fast bowler?’ No on was spared — not even Dennis Lillee.
    Greg Chappell was batting against the leg-spin of Malcolm Francke one day who was bowling flat, frugal toppies without any semblance of air. Calling down the wicket to Francke to be brave and take him on, Chappell finally got a ball tossed a little higher and calmly flat-batted it straight back over the sightscreen. Those Chappell boys were seriously good.
    The SA XI of the mid ‘70s were a mix of the old and the new, Terry Jenner and Ashley Mallett and Chappell himself being lifted by the youthful exuberance of the young ones like Rick Darling and David Hookes.
    Sexton tells the stories of each of the players; how a developing Mallett met old spin master Clarrie Grimmett one day and the pair went out to play in Clarrie’s back yard.
    Then in his 70s and wearing no gloves or box, Clarrie easily defended the first ball and called Mallett to mid pitch. ‘Give up bowling and become a batsman,’ he said.
    ‘Hang on, I’ve only bowled one ball.’
    ‘I can tell you’ve got no variety.’
    In time Mallett was to develop a big drifter. It made him Chappell’s ‘go-to’ spinner, much to the frustration of spin partner Jenner, who reckoned Mallett was getting an easier ride, being able to have choice of ends.
    ‘TJ’ would tell Chappell that you could tell which one had the advantage of bowling into the wind by their hair: Mallett was receding from the front and he had a bald patch developing at the back.
    The book flows from beginning to end, the anecdotes vivid and memories clear and enlightening.
    Wicketkeeper Denis Yagmich, another in the team originally from the West, talks of the sheer genius of Chappell’s captaincy. ‘He led by example, he was a man’s man and was very astute,’ he said. ‘He was spot on with field placings and he really knew the opposition. He knew what everyone did.’
    Barry Curtin was only a ‘bit’ player in the team and in Brisbane was taken aback when Sam Trimble, Queensland’s wizened captain, slowly read his name on the scoreboard and asked around if anyone had heard of him.
    ‘No,’ came the collective response.
    ‘Are you sure you are at the right ground son?’
    I would have liked to have seen match by match scores and team averages and an index, but that is only a slight detraction to what is a riveting read. Highly recommended. — KP

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