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An infamous incident involving an underarm delivery occurred on February 1, 1981 when Australia was playing New Zealand in a One-day International, the third of five matches in the final of the Benson & Hedges World Series Cup at the MCG.
New Zealand required a six to tie the match from the final ball, with eight wickets down. The Australian captain (Greg Chappell) ordered the bowler (his brother, Trevor Chappell) to bowl underarm: rolling the ball along the ground to avoid the possibility that the No. 10 New Zealand batsman (Brian McKechnie) would score a six from the last ball to tie the match.
Australia won the game but the New Zealand batsmen marched off in disgust and since that day the underarm bowling incident has been a source of discussion, both heated and jocular, between Australians and New Zealanders.
It was described as "the most disgusting incident I can recall in the history of cricket" by the then Prime Minister of New Zealand, Rob Muldoon, who also observed that "It was an act of cowardice and I consider it appropriate that the Australian team were wearing yellow". Even the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, called the act "contrary to the traditions of the game".
Brian McKechnie bears no ill-will over the incident but both Chappell brothers have publicly stated their embarrassment over the incident and, over 20 years later, are still reluctant to discuss it.
As a direct result of the incident, underarm bowling was banned in limited overs cricket by the International Cricket Council as not within the spirit of the game.
New Zealand cricketer Warren Lees recounted the underarm incident on New Zealand's 20/20 current affairs show, on Thursday 17 February 2005. He said for long after the affair there was silence in the dressing room, which was broken suddenly and unexpectedly by fellow player Mark Burgess smashing a tea cup.
On February 17, 2005 - 24 years after the original underarm delivery - Australian fast bowler Glenn McGrath light-heartedly revisited the incident in the first ever Twenty20 international, played between Australia and New Zealand. In the last over of the match, a grinning McGrath pretended to bowl an underarm delivery to Kyle Mills which prompted New Zealand umpire Billy Bowden to produce a mock red card. This drew a large reception from the crowd, which was mostly made up of New Zealand fans, and echoed the good spirits in which the whole game had been played.
* In the February 1981 underarm delivery incident, the batsman at the non-striker's end, Bruce Edgar, was on 102 not out at the time and his innings has been called "the most overlooked century of all time".
* The match had earlier controversy: in the Australian innings, Martin Snedden took a spectacular low outfield catch off the batting of Greg Chappell. It was disallowed by the umpires, although TV replays clearly showed it was a clean catch. Some commentators believed Chappell should have taken Snedden's word that the catch was good.
* The underarm ball was technically a no-ball, because Australia had one too many fielders outside the field restriction line.
* The day after the affair Doug Walters and Allan Border experimented on the Sydney ground how a ball bowled underarm might have been successfully dealt with. Border bowled underarm to Walters. The moment the ball was delivered, Walters "charged down the wicket and stuck out his left foot whereupon the grub cannoned into his boot, popped up in the air, and then Walters clouted it out of the ground.". However, this would have been illegal under the Hit the ball twice rule.